Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Implications of Implicit Cues for Cognition

    Social Judgment Theory as it applies to real-world applications is one of those theories that makes sense to the average person, and has intuitive value.  It says that when we experience an instance of communication, we judge the source of that communication, placing it on a spectrum of trust.  Coupling that with the priming factors in our daily life brings to light a wider range of implications.  If we are constantly exposed to stimuli of a certain valence, we bring those biases subconsciously into our everyday activities.  Noticing this correlation can inform how we go about interacting with others without bringing awareness into our actions.
    Bargh, et al. studied behavior with initial priming as well, researching if activating thoughts of the elderly has participants walk more slowly after towards the door. Race attitudes have also been studied. Being able to test subconscious beliefs using experimental trials has provided some non-intuitive trends.
    This also feeds into and draws from the Elaboration Likelihood Model, in that we are uncovering central versus peripheral effect, though in the case of priming, the peripheral communication is implicit rather than explicit.   The amount of cognitive load someone is willing to undertake reflects their attachment to that issue and/or a generalized “need to know.”  Following the central route of comprehension and influence creates strong changes in the participants, whether for the positive or negative  of the argument.  However, implicit information and cues circumvent the central route and have widespread implications. 


Griffin, Em.  A First Look at Communication Theory, Seventh Edition. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc, 2009, Chapters. 14, 15.

Petty, R.E. & Cacioppo, J.T. Motivational approaches (Chapter 5). In Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporary Approaches. Dubuque, IW: Wm. C. Brown, 1981 (pp. 59-94 & 125-161).

Bargh, J. A., Chen, M., & Burrows, L. (1996). Automaticity of social behavior: Direct effects of trait construct and stereotype priming on action. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 230-244.

(Beneficial Priming?)

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