Date of Award

Fall 1-6-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Jason Young

Second Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Huselid

Academic Program Adviser

Dr. Sandeep Prasada


In a now classic study, Srull and Wyer (1979) found that by priming participants with hostility related stimuli in a sentence unscrambling task caused subsequent judgment of a person (Donald) behaving ambiguously to be perceived as more hostile. As part of a larger, multi-lab collaborative study conducted by Randy McCarthy, the purpose of this study is to replicate the findings found in Srull and Wyer (1979) by focusing on two conditions that demonstrated a clear priming effect, the use of 30 sentences in the sentence unscrambling task and the immediate testing condition. Participants first completed a sentence unscrambling task, followed by the reading of a brief vignette about a man named Donald behaving ambiguously hostile and then rated him on a set of personality traits. As an indicator of hostility, we examined ratings of three traits (hostile, unfriendly, and dislikeable) to create an average hostility score for participants of both groups. Participants in the experimental group who descrambled mostly hostile sentences rated Donald as 0.18 points more hostile than did those who descrambled neutral sentences. Analysis found these results not to be significant. Results indicated a significant interaction for the trait rating of dislikeable, females in the control group rated the trait more negatively compared to males in the control group. To provide additional context for the results in our sample, we re-analyzed data from three external samples in this multi-site project. Results from all samples suggest that the currently used methods do not produce a hostile priming effect as detected in the original Srull and Wyer (1979) study.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.