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Open Access

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Degree Name

Thesis (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded



Human information processing, Memory


Two priming experiments extending the work of Loftus (1973) and Loftus and Loftus (1974) were conducted to investigate retrieval from semantic memory. Subjects produced a letter-restricted instance from a semantic category on a prime trial, and then were asked to produce a second, different instance from the category on the target trial. The letter-restrictor for the target trial allowed a response that was either high- or low-related to the prime trial response. In addition, in Experiment 1 the dominance of the target response was varied, while in Experiment 2 the dominance of the prime response was varied. High prime-target response relatedness significantly improved target trial performance, but only in conjunction with high target dominance. Target performance was not affected by the dominance of the prime response. These results indicate that the priming of category exemplar retrieval is not simply a matter of category repetition; the interaction of exemplar dominance and its relatedness to a just-retrieved exemplar is an important determinant of retrieval performance. Two activation models are developed to account for the findings.