Rumble Over Priming
Does hearing words such as “wrinkles” and “Florida” make you walk like an old person?
Imagine the life of a college professor—a home filled with books, days filled with erudite conversation. Now answer this: “What is the capital of Bangladesh?”
You’ve just experienced the “professor prime.” It’s an example of a phenomenon that social psychologists call behavioral priming, in which subtle cues—pictures, ideas, words—subconsciously affect behavior. If you’re “primed” to think about a professor, then you become smarter—and more likely to dredge up the fact that Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh. Contemplating the life of a soccer hooligan, on the other hand, makes you...