Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Ken Deffenbacher

Second Advisor

Dr. Wayne Harrison

Third Advisor

Dr. Rom Lorsbach

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Greg Simpson


Backward priming was investigated under conditions similar to those found in lexical ambiguity research. Subjects received prime-target word pairs which were associated either in a backward direction (BABY-STORK) or bidirectionally (BABY-CRY). The primes were auditorily presented, either in isolation or in a sentence, and subjects made lexical decision or naming responses to the targets, which followed the primes either immediately or after 200 msec. Forward priming was obtained in all conditions. Backward priming occurred with both response tasks, but only when. the prime was an isolated word. For naming only, backward priming decreased over time. The results suggest that the locus of the backward priming effect is different for naming and lexical decision. Further, there was no evidence to support the claim that backward priming can account for the demonstrations, in the ambiguity literature, of priming for contextually inappropriate meanings of ambiguous words in sentence contexts.


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1986 Robert R. Peterson.