Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
PRiming
PRIMING is activating concepts in the player's mind to influence their
future behavior.
A person always has something on his mind. When you see an ad for a
war movie, your mind fills with war. When you see a photo of a kitten, war
is replaced with fuzziness. You remain primed with these concepts for
several minutes, during which your behavior changes. Being primed with
war makes you more combative and aggressive. Being primed with kittens
makes you more caring and nurturing.
In one experiment, participants completed written language tests.
The researchers didn't actually care about the results of the tests—only
how the words in the test would affect people's behavior. One group was
given tests with words related to rudeness. The other got tests with words
related to politeness. Afterward, participants were told to leave the room
and go down the hall to talk to the administrator. But when they got there,
they found him in a conversation with someone else. What the research-
ers wanted to know was whether the participants would interrupt this
conversation.
Sixty-three percent of subjects exposed to rudeness-related words in-
terrupted the conversation, while only 17% of politeness-primed subjects
did. Apparently, just reading words about rudeness is enough to make you
act rudely, at least for a few minutes.
In another experiment, subjects were primed with words like wrinkle ,
bingo , and Florida . Afterward, researchers watched how quickly they
walked down the hall on their way out of the building. The subject who had
been primed with words about oldness walked slower than those primed
with neutral words, because being primed with oldness also activated the
related concept of slowness.
Priming happens all the time, even in accidental, self-contradictory
ways. When someone instructs you not to think of pink elephants, you are
primed with pink elephants. Participants instructed to avoid construct-
ing sexist statements in a word-completion task actually produced more
sexist statements than those who were given no special instructions. Just
having the idea of sexism or pink elephants on the mind—in order to
avoid them—makes these images and responses more available.
 
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