Turn-frogs and careful-sweaters: Non-conscious perception of incongruous word pairings provokes fluid compensation

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Abstract

The meaning maintenance model (MMM) maintains that violations of expectations can elicit compensatory behavior. When anomalies are encountered, people may compensate either by affirming an intact schema or by abstracting new, meaningful connections. Past research has shown that implicitly perceived events can be threatening, and can cause changes to behavior that were not consciously intended. However, no research has yet explored whether fluid compensation responses can occur implicitly, in response to an implicit threat. This paper introduces a novel meaning threat and provides evidence that both threat and response can happen entirely outside conscious awareness. Two studies present participants with subliminally incoherent word pairs (e.g., turn-frog). Study 1 finds that these subliminal presentations enhance the ability to implicitly learn new patterns. Study 2 finds that these same presentations lead to the affirmation of an unrelated moral schema, and to the same extent as a subliminal mortality salience manipulation. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.

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Randles, D., Proulx, T., & Heine, S. J. (2011). Turn-frogs and careful-sweaters: Non-conscious perception of incongruous word pairings provokes fluid compensation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(1), 246–249. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2010.07.020

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