Read the following sentence:
“The aroma of warm bread spread tantalizingly out of the bakery.”
And now fill in the blanks to form a word:
B_ _ T_R
You probably did not come out with “barter,” “banter,” “beater,” “bitter,” or even “better.” In fact, chances are that your word was “butter.” The phrase “bread and butter” is fairly common in English, so the mention of “bread” is likely to have activated concepts that are associated to it and thus may have made you think of the word “butter” over the many other fitting alternatives.
Psychologists call this phenomenon priming . It refers to the fact that exposure to one stimulus...