The present research involved masked priming lexical decision experiments using, in the crucial condition, masked primes with an orthographic neighbour that was semantically related to the target. Regardless of the lexicality of the prime, a significant priming effect was observed when the relatedness proportion (RP, that is, the proportion of primes and targets that were directly related on the "word" trials) was 2/3 (Experiments 1 and 2). No effect emerged, however, when the RP was 0 (Experiment 3). These results indicate that lexical/semantic activation arises automatically for both the prime and its neighbours. This activated lexical/semantic information appears to be evaluated together with the lexical/semantic information activated by the target, creating a decision bias during the decision-making process, but only when that information often provides a clue as to the nature of the correct decision. Our results, therefore, also provide support for the retrospective account of masked semantic priming.
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