The effects of private and collective self-priming on visual search: Taking advantage of organized contextual stimuli


Correspondence should be addressed to Stephen Rice, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA (e-mail:


Two experiments tested the hypothesis that priming the collective self improves some visual search tasks. In both experiments, participants searched for an O among Qs. The pattern of distracters was manipulated across experiments to allow the possibility of grouping (Experiment 1) or to disallow this possibility (Experiment 2). Consistent with expectations, collective self-priming increased visual search speed when grouping was possible but it had no effect on visual search speed when grouping was not possible. In combination, the data support the notion that collective self-priming makes people more likely to utilize a pattern to facilitate visual search when there is a pattern present to be perceived.