For more than a decade, researchers have convincingly shown that people's social behavior can be affected by primed constructs without people having any awareness of their influence. Earlier research proposed direct priming accounts for these effects, suggesting that primed constructs exert their effect on behavior in a relatively direct fashion without an intervening role for perceptual processes. In this chapter, we review evidence in favor of an indirect priming account for behavioral priming effects. In these indirect priming effects, a primed construct affects behavior via shifts in perceptions of a perceptual target. We review three types of indirect priming mechanisms: a self-perception, person-perception, and situation-perception mechanism. We also present various moderators that affect the direction and magnitude of each of the indirect priming effects. In addition, we identify factors, related to the attentional focus of the prime recipient, that indicate when each of the different mechanisms operates. Understanding the role of perceptual processes in the prime-to-behavior pathway can unravel more mysteries about the rich and complex nature of social behavior.

social behavior,
ERIM Article Series (EAS)
Advances in Experimental Social Psychology
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Smeesters, D.H.R.V, Wheeler, S.C, & Kay, A.C. (2010). Indirect Prime-to-Behavior Effects: The Role of Perceptions of the Self, Others, and Situations in Connecting Primed Constructs to Social Behavior. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 42, pp. 259–317). doi:10.1016/S0065-2601(10)42005-5