Dataset: Faster might not be better: pictures may not elicit a stronger masked priming effect than words when modulated by semantic similarity.
The masked priming paradigm has been used to observe the existence of unconscious semantic processing of words and pictures. It has been suggested that subliminal semantic processing is stimulus-dependent, being faster for pictures when compared to words. This led to the hypothesis that priming effect for pictorial stimuli would yield a stronger priming effect compared to verbal stimuli. Semantic similarity between the stimuli of each pair is another factor to take into account because it might also modulate the priming effect. The present study, therefore, tested the semantic masked priming effect between words and pictures and also analyzed the semantic similarity between the prime and target of each pair for both stimuli formats. Participants performed a masked priming semantic categorization task with words or pictures as prime-target stimuli pairs, which consisted of deciding whether the target stimulus was an animal or an object. Trials consisted of three different conditions regarding the semantic similarity: strongly similar, weakly similar and non-similar. Significant differences in response times were only found between the congruent conditions (strongly similar and weakly similar) and the incongruent condition (non-similar), for both pictures and words, with the responses faster for pictures than for words. Nevertheless, no superior priming effect was found for pictures over words, nor was there a different priming effect for strongly similar and weakly similar trials. This could suggest that even though semantic processing is faster for pictures, this does not imply a stronger priming effect.