An immense body of priming studies demonstrates that emotional stimuli can be processed very quickly and even without awareness. It is, however, not completely resolved which form of differentiation can take place under such limited presentation conditions.
The present dissertation thus examines the specificity of emotional information processing in masked sequential priming paradigms. The introduction section summarizes the existing evidence regarding the topic. In the empirical section, seven experiments are reported in which new variants of two popular sequential priming paradigms (i.e., affect misattribution procedure, evaluative priming paradigm) are employed. These new variants allow the assessment of several degrees of specificity, that is, they allow to test whether only valence, specific meaning aspects of emotion beyond valence, or whether the specific emotion category can be distinguished. Taken together, the results of the doctoral thesis provide evidence for a more differentiated processing of emotional information under masked presentation conditions than demonstrated so far. The implications of these results for the modeling of the early stages of information processing are presented in the General Discussion.