Cognitively Accessible Words Associated with God as Effective Lexical Primes


  • Michael B Kitchens Lebanon Valley College
  • Isabella M Lang Lebanon Valley College
  • Sydney E Petrasic Lebanon Valley College
  • Brian C Remper Lebanon Valley College
  • Brittany M Wilson Lebanon Valley College



God, Free-Association, Religion, Priming, Word-Association


Do the words used to prime the concept of God in psychology of religion research studies accurately reflect a mental representation of God? To examine this, two samples completed a free-association task, where they listed 10 words that came to mind when they thought about God (Studies 1a–1b). We found that more than half of the lexical primes used in previous studies were rarely or never produced (< 5 times) in the 2,610 free-association responses. Using a false memory paradigm, Study 2 revealed that the most frequent free-association words produced in Studies 1a and 1b more effectively primed the concept of God than a set of prime words used in previous religious priming studies that were not frequent free-association words in Studies 1a and 1b. This research advances the methodological practices in religious priming research and contributes to an understanding of people’s thoughts about God.

Author Biography

Isabella M Lang, Lebanon Valley College

Isabella M. Lang is a current student at Lebanon Valley College.


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How to Cite

Kitchens, M. B., Lang, I. M., Petrasic, S. E., Remper, B. C., & Wilson, B. M. (2022). Cognitively Accessible Words Associated with God as Effective Lexical Primes. Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion, 8(2), 78–101.