Experimental Psycholinguistics: An Introduction

Experimental Psycholinguistics: An Introduction

Experimental Psycholinguistics: An Introduction

Experimental Psycholinguistics: An Introduction

Excerpt

Our conceptions of human cognitive functioning have changed radically in the last twenty years. The faith and conviction that perception, thinking, and language usage could ultimately be understood in terms of relatively simple stimulus-response mechanisms have given way to the current view of man as a relatively complex information-processing system. Within cognitive psychology, Donald Broadbent and Ulric Neisser were among the early important influences in this direction. Noam Chomsky and George Miller played similar roles among students of language. The message carried by these writers and by many others is that cognitive functioning in general and language behavior in particular involve rich and complex systems for perceiving, organizing, and using information. Earlier models of human functioning as a stimulus-response mechanism used the mechanical analog of a telephone switchboard. In contrast, our contemporary mechanical analog is the high-speed digital computer. Perhaps we always choose the most complicated machine we know of as our model of the human mind.

This shift in metaphors for mental activity does not necessarily involve abandonment of experimental psychology's traditional empiricist philosophy. Our orientation throughout this book is empirical in the broadest sense of the word. Psycholinguistics began with attempts to test the empirical validity of various formal linguistic concepts. A prototypical study in this genre was "The Psychological Reality of X," where X represented such concepts as the phoneme, deep structure, or case relations. This research . . .

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