Behavior Research Methods vol:47 issue:2 pages:580-606
The present research investigates semantic priming with an adapted version of the word fragment completion task. In this task, which we refer to as the speeded word fragment completion task, participants need to complete words like lett_ce (lettuce), from which one letter was omitted, as fast as possible. This paradigm has some interesting qualities in comparison to the traditionally used lexical decision task. That is, it requires no pseudo words, it is more engaging for participants, and most importantly, it allows for a more fine-grained investigation of semantic activation. In two studies we found that words are completed faster when the preceding trial comprised a semantically related fragment like tom_to (tomato) than when it comprised an unrelated fragment like guit_r (guitar). A third experiment involved a lexical decision task to compare both paradigms. The results showed that the magnitude of the priming effect was similar, but item level priming effects were inconsistent over tasks. Crucially, the speeded word fragment completion task obtained strong priming effects for highly frequent, central words like work, money, and warm whereas the lexical decision task did not. In a final experiment featuring only short, highly frequent words, the lexical decision task failed to find a priming effect, while the fragment completion task did obtain a robust effect. Taken together, the speeded word fragment completion task may prove a viable alternative to examine semantic priming.
The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13428-014-0496-5