Behavioral Grooves Podcast

Want to Know How Priming Works? It Starts With Your Conscious, Not Your Unconscious | John Bargh PhD

Sept. 19, 2022

“The primary source of unconscious priming…is your conscious experience.” Our consciousness is where we bring everything together, where we integrate and form a rich integration of our experience. This result is that this experience gets spread out to all the processes of the mind which is pivotal to how priming, an unconscious effect, actually works.

Dr John Bargh PhD is a researcher and professor at Yale University and is probably the leading researcher on behavioral priming and has been studying this topic for almost 40 years. Not only that but he is a long term friend of Behavioral Grooves Podcast.

In this episode with John, we explore with him both the past and future of priming as well as some of the controversies surrounding it. 

“The more important the goal, the more primable it is”



(4:36) Welcome and speed round questions.

(7:50) Why priming gets a bad rap.

(13:01) What exactly is a prime?

(16:17) Where does future research in priming need to go?

(19:46) How does priming differ from expectation theory and the placebo effect?

(22:33) How is framing not priming?

(24:07) What is the summation of experience?

(32:02) The stupid reason John went into social psychology.

(40:51) What the meta analysis studies on priming have found.

(45:50) Science communication: how to tell the good science from the bad.

(49:03) The importance of podcasting to bridge the gap between science and people.

(1:00:03) Grooving session with Tim and Kurt on priming. 


© 2022 Behavioral Grooves



John Bargh's book “Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do”:

Episode 248, Do We Control Situations or Do Situations Control Us? With John Bargh: 

Episode 155, John Bargh: Dante, Coffee and the Unconscious Mind: 

Global Workspace Theory: 

Bargh JA. “What have we been priming all these years? On the development, mechanisms, and ecology of nonconscious social behavior.” Eur J Soc Psychol. 2006: 

Shinobu Kitayama, University of Michigan: 

Daphna Oyserman, University of Southern California: 

Paul J. Reber, Northwestern University: 

Daniel Schacter, “Amnesia observed: Remembering and forgetting in a natural environment” (1983): 

Parafoveal Processing: 

Jeffrey W. Sherman (2017) “A Final Word on Train Wrecks”: 

Evan Weingarten, Qijia Chen, Maxwell McAdams, Jessica Yi, Justin Hepler, Dolores Albarracin (2016) “On Priming Action: Conclusions from a Meta-Analysis of the Behavioral Effects of Incidentally-Presented Words”: 

Xiao Chen, Gary P. Latham, Ronald F. Piccolo, Guy Itzchakov (2019) “An Enumerative Review and a Meta-Analysis of Primed Goal Effects on Organizational Behavior”: 

Roy F. Baumeister and Kathleen D. Vohs (2003): “Sobriety Epidemic Endangers Nation’s Well-Being”: 

Episode 147, Gary Latham, PhD: Goal Setting, Prompts, Priming, and Skepticism:  


Musical Links 

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Acid Dad “Searchin’”: 

The Orb “Blue Room”: 

Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit”: 

Pearl Jam “Black”: 

The Who “Who You Are”: 

Led Zeppelin “All My Love”: 

Dead Pirates “Alexis”: 

Hadestown Broadway Show “Way Down Hadestown”: neither hosts nor alters podcast files. All content © its respective owners.