Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Psychology, Industrial and Organizational

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Stephanie M. Merritt, Ph.D.


Bettina J. Casad, Ph.D.

Jeffrey Noel, Ph.D.

Matthew J. Taylor, Ph.D.


Past research has clearly demonstrated the ability of various primes to influence behavior; however, little is understood about how and why primes work. The present research takes a theory-based approach to begin to understand this further. First, it investigates whether a picture prime has the ability to influence cooperative and competitive concept activation and implicit associations. Then, it examines whether the characteristics of the picture prime, specifically the race of the individuals depicted in the prime and whether it matches the race of the participant (i.e., demographic similarity), moderate these effects. Secondly, the present research investigates whether the same picture primes can impact cooperative and competitive behavior, and how those primes interact with explicit instructions to behave either cooperatively or competitively. Through a series of two studies, initial support is provided for the primes’ ability to impact implicit associations, with some support that demographic similarity may moderate these effects. However, the impact on implicit associations was not consistent across both studies presented herein. Further, neither the primes nor the explicit instructions used in the present research appeared to influence concept activation or behavior as operationalized in the present research. In fact, the researcher believes the compensation given to participants for completing the study became the primary driver behind of how they behaved. Implications for future research, including measurement and generalizability considerations, are discussed.

OCLC Number