Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.Sc.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Buchanan, Lori (Psychology)

Keywords

Psychology.

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

Visual word recognition response times are known to be influenced by such factors as concreteness (reviewed e.g., Paivio, 1991; Schwanenflugel, 1991) and Semantic Neighbourhood Density (SND; Buchanan, Westbury & Burgess, 2001), which is the proximity of words related by meaning to a target word in semantic memory. Through the use of two standard lexical decision task experiments, the goal of this study was to compare response times for abstract words versus concrete words, while also varying levels of SND using two different stimulus sets. The main and interactive effects of these variables were demonstrated, though conclusions were primarily made based on the data from Experiment 2 because of the use of a more controlled stimulus set, as well as a speed-accuracy trade-off evident in the Experiment 1 data. This investigation represents the first attempt to explore the effects of SND on the visual recognition of abstract words.

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