Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

Eye Movements as Direct Tests of the GO Model for the Missing-Letter Effect

Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

Eye Movements as Direct Tests of the GO Model for the Missing-Letter Effect

Article excerpt

When asked to detect target letters while reading a text, participants miss more letters in frequently occurring function words than in less frequent content words. To account for this pattern of results, known as the missing-letter effect, Greenberg, Healy, Koriat, and Kreiner (2004) proposed the guidance-organization (GO) model, which integrates the two leading models of the missing-letter effect while incorporating innovative assumptions based on the literature on eye movements during reading. The GO model was evaluated by monitoring the eye movements of participants while they searched for a target letter in a continuous text display. Results revealed the usual missing-letter effect, and many empirical benchmark effects in eye movement literature were observed. However, contrary to the predictions of the GO model, response latencies were longer for function words than for content words. Alternative models are discussed that can accommodate both error and response latency data for the missing-letter effect.

In a letter detection task, in which participants are asked to read a continuous text and to circle all instances of a target letter, omissions are far more numerous when the target appears in frequent function words than when it appears in less frequent content words (Corcoran, 1966). This well-replicated phenomenon, known as the missing-letter effect, has benefited from intense empirical activity and a vigorous theoretical debate between the two leading proposals, the unitization account/processing time hypothesis and the structural account (Healy, 1994; Koriat & Greenberg, 1994). Although each of these models has received considerable empirical support, neither of them individually accounts for all results in the literature. As evidence accumulated, it became increasingly evident that an integrative model would provide a better explanation (Saint-Aubin & Klein, 2001; Saint-Aubin & Poirier, 1997). Recently, Greenberg, Healy, Koriat, and Kreiner (2004) put forward such an integrative proposal; called the guidance-organization (GO) model, it integrates the major assumptions of the two competing models, and also proposes innovative assumptions centered on eye movement patterns. The aim of the present study was to test the key assumptions of this promising new proposal by recording eye movements while participants engaged in a letter detection task.

The missing-letter effect is usually observed by comparing a very frequent function word with less frequent content words (Healy, 1994; Koriat & Greenberg, 1994). However, as this description implies, two factors usually covary in this contrast: word function and word frequency (Koriat, Greenberg, & Goldshmid, 1991). Not surprisingly, many studies have been conducted to assess the unique contribution of each of these factors. For instance, the influence of word frequency was evidenced by a higher omission rate for the target letter embedded in more frequent content words than in less frequent content words (e.g., time-tine, cost-cyst, thought-thicket) (Greenberg, Koriat, & Vellutino, 1998; Healy, 1976; Minkoff & Raney, 2000; Roy-Charland & Saint-Aubin, 2006; Saint-Aubin & Klein, 2004; Saint-Aubin, Klein, & Landry, 2005), as well as in the frequent personal pronoun they compared with the rare and archaic personal pronoun thou (Moravcsik & Healy, 1995). The influence of word function has been shown, among other means, by a higher omission rate of the target letter / embedded in the function word at than in the content word it, despite the fact that both words occur with about equal frequency (Greenberg et al., 1998; Roy-Charland & Saint-Aubin, 2006; Saint-Aubin et al., 2005). Similarly, in French, Saint-Aubin and Poirier (1997) observed more omissions of the target letter r in or when used as a function word meaning whereas than as a content word meaning gold, even though both usages occur with about the same frequency. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.