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Abstract Four experiments tested a key tenet of Bornstein's (1992, 1993) cognitive/interactionist (C/I) model of interpersonal dependency: that priming the helpless self-schema (HSS) alters processing of dependency-related information in dependent—but not nondependent—individuals. Experiments 1 and 2 assessed the effects of subliminal lexical priming and an emotional priming manipulation on lexical decision (LD) judgments for dependency-related words and control words. Experiments 3 and 4 assessed the effects of these same priming procedures on Interpersonal Stroop Task (IST) performance. As predicted, priming the HSS produced contrasting effects on different outcome measures, decreasing LD latencies, but increasing IST response times. Results are discussed in the context of the C/I model, and suggestions for future studies are offered.