Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

James Prochaska


This research explored the effect of priming and subliminal oedipal stimulation on the dart throwing performance of 36 college males. The design was similar to that used by Silverman, Ross, Adler, and Lustig (in press) in that each subject was seen individually and in addition, had pre and post measures taken for the three within subject experimental conditions. Each within subject condition consisted of a verbal message and a congruent picture presented at a speed of 4 msec. One condition was designed to enhance oedipal guilt, one to decrease it, and one to serve as a neutral control.

The 36 subjects were divided into three priming groups of 12 subjects each. One group, designed as a replication of the work done by Silverman et al. (in press), was presented with both direct and projective priming material designed to arouse oedipal guilt; one group was shown neutral direct material and oedipal-related projective material; and one group saw neutral material only. It was predicted that the subliminal stimuli would have the same effect in all three groups.

The data was analyzed with a repeated measures analysis of covariance. No significant main effects or interaction effects of stimulus content were found. The only significant effect emerging was an interaction between prime and experimenter. In addition, a priori comparisons conducted on the full prime replication group also yielded no significant results.

The results were discussed for their significance in demonstrating that if there is an effect of subliminal oedipal stimulation on dart-throwing performance, it is at best a weak one. Questions about both the reliability and generalizability of the results of the work of Silverman et al. (in press) were raised.



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