Most investigations of unconscious perception use a dissociation design in which an awareness’variable (e.g., detection) is compared with a perceptual processing variable (e.g., identification). Unconscious perception is inferred when the awareness variable lacks sensitivity to the stimulus but evidence of perceptual processing is still obtained. In two studies we examined the relationship between word identification and detection (Study 1) or discrimination (words vs. nonwords; Study 2) witlh a variety of techniques. In both studies, dissociations suggestive of unconscious perception occurred when the data were examined with subjective threshold approaches, but these differences disappeared when the variables were compared with techniques derived from signal detection theory (SDT). These results do not support unconscious perception in subjective threshold paradigms. In addition, detection appears to be the most sensitive and appropriate task for assessing stimulus awareness, provided that several SDT assumptions are met.

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