PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Mental Health - Neuroscience - Science Policy

Priming of Social Distance? Failure to Replicate Effects on Social and Food Judgments
Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Author: Harold Pashler et al.

by Harold Pashler, Noriko Coburn, Christine R. Harris

Williams and Bargh (2008) reported an experiment in which participants were simply asked to plot a single pair of points on a piece of graph paper, with the coordinates provided by the experimenter specifying a pair of points that lay at one of three different distances (close, intermediate, or far, relative to the range available on the graph paper). The participants who had graphed a more distant pair reported themselves as being significantly less close to members of their own family than did those who had plotted a more closely-situated pair. In another experiment, people's estimates of the caloric content of different foods were reportedly altered by the same type of spatial distance priming. Direct replications of both results were attempted, with precautions to ensure that the experimenter did not know what condition the participant was assigned to. The results showed no hint of the priming effects reported by Williams and Bargh (2008).