The Effect of Working Memory Load on Evaluative Priming
TheThe present study examined the role of working memory in an evaluative priming paradigm, in which primes that are affectively congruent or incongruent are presented prior to a target stimulus. Studies typically observe a congruity effect, whereby responses to a congruent target-prime pairing are facilitated. However, research has also demonstrated an incongruity effects: whereby incongruent target-prime pairings are facilitated. It is theorized that the incongruity effect occurs due to a corrective mechanism. To examine the role of working memory in the evaluative priming, a within-subjects design was employed, in which working memory load, congruency, and target valence were manipulated. Firstly, the findings indicated an incongruity effect. Secondly, it seems that working memory is the cognitive resource implicated in expectancy-based strategies, as a working memory load reduced accuracy and increased response latencies to targets. Thirdly, the results revealed that the incongruity effect is attenuated by working memory load, suggesting that the incongruity effect is dependent on the availability of cognitive resources. The study also observed a happy face target recognition advantage. One implication of the present study is that that evaluative priming can occur via expectancy-based strategies when SOAs are long.