What is priming? How is priming used in public speaking?

What is priming? How is priming used in public speaking?

An online speaker‘s perception can be influenced by many factors. One of them is priming, which in psychology is a phenomenon consisting in activating the cognitive scheme through frequent exposure to a specific stimulus (Dillman Carpentier, 2020). As a result, the activated structure facilitates recalling and associating words or concepts related to it (Tulving and Schacter, 1990). The phenomenon of priming can be used as a technique of social influence.

The sequence of images

One way to use priming is to manage the sequence of images that appear. Kosonogov (2020), in a study conducted on a group of students, showed that neutral photos can be perceived more positively if unpleasant images were previously presented, and if the first respondents saw a pleasant photo, the neutral one was more unpleasant. The stimuli can trigger stereotypes. Viewing male or female faces results in a faster response in assigning names to a given gender than in the absence of any stimulus (Macrae & Cloutier, 2009).

Priming in public speaking

Priming can also be a phenomenon used to create the desired mood, which can affect the way of remembering, thinking, making judgments, conclusions and on interpersonal behavior (Forgas, 2017). So putting the audience in a good mood by the speaker through the background can determine how they are perceived. A positive mood may imply that the recipient is safe and may rely on their knowledge; negative moods will raise alarms and cause skepticism in the veracity of the content of the presentation. (Bless and Fiedler, 2006).


By means of a sequence of photos, building the right mood or manipulating the environment, you can influence the way of thinking, formulating judgments and conclusions, and interpersonal behavior. Priming, therefore, can be used in the selection of backgrounds that will have the intended effect on the audience.


  • Aarts, H. i  Dijksterhuis, A. (2003). The Silence of the Library: Environment, Situational Norm, and Social Behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2003, 84(1), s. 18–28.
  • Bless, H. i Fiedler, K. (2006). Mood and the regulation of information processing and behavior. W: J.P. Forgas (red.), Hearts and Minds: Affective Influences on Social Cognition and Behaviour. Psychology Press.
  • Dillman Carpentier, F.R. (2020). International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Forgas, J.P. (2017). Mood Effects on Cognition: Affective Influences on the Content and Process of Information Processing and Behavior. Emotions and Affect in Human Factors and Human–Computer Interaction. Academic Press.
  • Kosonogov, V. (2020). The effects of the order of picture presentation on the subjective emotional evaluation of pictures. Revista PSICOLOGIA, 34(2), s. 171-178.
  • Macrae, C.N., Cloutier, J. (2009). A Matter of Design: Priming Context and Person Perception. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(4), s. 1012.
  • Tulving, E. i Schacter, D.L. (1990). Priming and human memory systems. Science, 247(4940), s. 301-306.

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