Subliminal priming and mood : a preliminary study.
The topic ofsubliminalperception (perception without awareness) is investigated in this thesis. A technique of masking by visual noise was developed for use with an IBM-type microcomputer and VGA screen. This technique was used to investigate whether subliminal mood priming influences subjects' resolution oflexical ambiguity in a homophone task designed by Halberstadt et al. (1995). Limited evidence was found for mood-congruent priming, but only for negative emotional priming, and with the most strongly negative items. Some non-specific effects were also found to be associated with negative mood priming. The mood-priming effect was correlated with the negative emotional ratings of these items obtained from a separate group ofsubjects. In a Follow-up study, a self-report mood scale was used to assess subjects' reaction to both negative and positive subliminal stimuli. A pattern oftrends was found which suggested that subjects experienced a paradoxical improvement in mood after exposure to the negative stimulus. No changes were observed in the group exposed to the positive stimuli. A theoretical explanation was entertained which suggested that subjects adaptively attributed their change in affective arousal in terms of experimental demands. of A number ofrelationships to recent research were suggested by these experiments, in particular the finding of a preattentive bias for negative information in subjects with anxiety and non-clinical depression by Bradley et al., (1994, 1995) and Mogg et al.,(1993). It is suggested that measures ofphysiological and cortical arousal should receive attention in future research in order to clarify the response to subliminal stimulation in terms of affective arousal.