There’s Nothing Social about Social Priming: Derailing the “Train Wreck”

Jeffrey W. Sherman, Andrew M. Rivers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Failures to replicate high-profile priming effects have raised questions about the reliability of so-called “social priming” phenomena. However, not only are many of the relevant studies not particularly social in nature, but other robust priming effects that are clearly social in nature do not count as social priming. Most importantly, the focus on the supposedly social aspect of the work has obscured factors that help to account for the relative reliability of priming effects. Here, we examine the construct of social priming, describe some simple demonstrations on the role of experimental design in priming reproducibility, and discuss future avenues for building a better understanding of priming. We conclude that the term “social priming” should be laid to rest, and that it is time to move past arguments about the reliability of specific effects and shift our energy to building theories that help us better understand the mechanisms underlying priming effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Priming
  • social priming
  • train wreck

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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