Priming

Priming is an implicit memory effect in which exposure to a stimulus influences a response to a later stimulus. Priming is thought to play a large part in the systems of stereotyping. This is because attention to a response increases the frequency of that response, even if the attended response is undesired. The attention given to these responses or behaviors primes them for later activation. This can occur even if the subject is not conscious of the priming stimulus. An example of this was done by Bagh et al. in 1996. Subjects were implicitly primed with words related to the stereotype of elderly people (example: “Florida”, “forgetful”, “wrinkle”). While the words did not explicitly mention speed or slowness, those who were primed with these words walked more slowly upon exiting the testing booth than those who were primed with neutral stimuli.