There are few psychological effects better known—or more widely accepted—in academic halls than what is called semantic priming. Show a person a simple stimulus, something as unremarkable as a photograph of a cat. Let some time pass, then ask that same person to list as many words as possible that start with the letter c. This person is more likely not only to come up with the word cat, but to mention catlike animals such as cougars and cheetahs, because he was initially primed with that one little kitty cat.
And yet, many of the classic studies that led us to our current understanding of priming have never been replicated. In fact, the few attempts to reproduce the results that we have taken at face value for so long have failed. In late 2012, that led Daniel Kahneman, noted Princeton University psychologist and author of the best-selling book Thinking Fast and Slow, to write an open e-mail to the entire priming-research community.
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