Ambiguity advantage in word recognition

Abstract : Several studies have provided evidence that ambiguous words are recognized faster than unambiguous words when presented in isolation. However, recent results have shown a disadvantage for homonyms, which have unrelated meanings, and an advantage for polysemic words, which have related senses (e.g., Beretta et al., 2005; Rodd et al., 2002). Three lexical decision experiments were conducted to study ambiguity effect for French homonyms in visual and spoken word recognition. The results showed that homonyms were responded faster than matched unambiguous words. This ambiguity advantage was larger when pseudohomophones were used as foils in the visual lexical decision task than when illegal nonwords were used. These findings can be interpreted in terms of feedback activation from multiple unrelated meanings to the lexical representation of the ambiguous word. Thus, ambiguity advantage still challenges models assuming a competition between meanings at the semantic level.
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Pierre Thérouanne, Maude Las Dit Peisson, Jessica Roth. Ambiguity advantage in word recognition. XVth Meeting of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology (ESCoP), Aug 2007, Marseille, France. 2007. ⟨hal-01740010⟩

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