Subliminal Emotional Priming and Decision Making in a Simulated Hiring Situation


  • Skandrani-Marzouki Ines
  • Marzouki Yousri

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The present study examines the unconscious influence of emotional information on decision making in a simulated hiring situation. We used a subliminal masked priming paradigm with varying faces as primes, which were presented for a duration of 50 ms and had two levels of emotion: positive emotion (happiness) and negative emotion (anger). These primes were followed by emotionally neutral target faces. Primes were congruent (same faces) or incongruent (different faces). Prime Emotion (positive vs. negative) was crossed with Prime Repetition (repeat vs. unrelated) in a 2 x 2 factorial design. Each participant was tested in all four of the experimental conditions, each of which had 5 different trials. The participants were asked to indicate as rapidly as possible whether they were ``favorable'' or ``unfavorable'' toward the selection of the candidate (target face). Two dependent measures were analyzed: number of target faces chosen (i.e., number of ``favorable'' responses to target faces) and reaction time (RT). Results revealed a strong effect of emotional priming. Participants tended to choose more target faces preceded by positive prime faces than by negative prime faces. Moreover, they reacted faster when presented with target faces preceded by negative primes. Despite its exploratory nature, this study provides further evidence for the role of emotional processing in modulating decision processes and extends the experimental manipulation of subliminal emotion to the case of the masked repetition priming technique.

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