Language Proficiency’s Role in Backward Priming Effects




Holcombe, Christopher

Access rights

Worldwide access

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Some inconsistency is found in past literature on backward priming effects on the basis of proficiency in an L2. Simultaneous bilinguals generally display strong backward priming effects, but sequential bilinguals may not. To determine if and when it is possible for sequential bilinguals to display backward priming effects, students of varying L2 proficiencies in German (beginner and intermediate speakers) and highly proficient professors (advanced speakers) were investigated using a generalized LDT with cognate, noncognate, and unrelated primes. Ultimately, it was found that the advanced group differed from the intermediate and beginner in terms of total priming effect sizes, but with smaller effect sizes than the less proficient groups. Additionally, cognate and noncognate priming effect sizes did not differ from each other. These findings are inconsistent with past literature, and a number of limitations and recommendations for future studies are given.



Psycholinguistics, Lexical decision task, Backward priming effects, Proficiency