Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Semantic Priming Effects in a Lexical Decision Task: Comparing Third Graders and College Students in Two Different Stimulus Onset Asynchronies

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Semantic Priming Effects in a Lexical Decision Task: Comparing Third Graders and College Students in Two Different Stimulus Onset Asynchronies

Article excerpt

Differences in the semantic priming effect comparing child and adult performance have been found by some studies. However, these differences are not well established, mostly because of the variety of methods used by researchers around the world. One of the main issues concerns the absence of semantic priming effects on children at stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) smaller than 300ms. The aim of this study was to compare the semantic priming effect between third graders and college students at two different SOAs: 250ms and 500ms. Participants performed lexical decisions to targets which were preceded by semantic related or unrelated primes. Semantic priming effects were found at both SOAs in the third graders' group and in college students. Despite the fact that there was no difference between groups in the magnitude of semantic priming effects when SOA was 250ms, at the 500ms SOA their magnitude was bigger in children, corroborating previous studies. Hypotheses which could explain the presence of semantic priming effects in children's performance when SOA was 250ms are discussed, as well as hypotheses for the larger magnitude of semantic priming effects in children when SOA was 500ms.

Keywords: semantic priming, lexical decision, children, adults, stimulus onset asynchrony.

Algunos estudios han encontrado diferencias en la comparación del efecto de facilitación semántica entre adultos y niños. No obstante, estas diferencias no están bien establecidas, mayoritariamente debido a la variedad de métodos utilizados por los investigadores de todo el mundo. Uno de los aspectos principales concierne a la ausencia de efectos de facilitación semántica en niños con intervalos entre estímulos (stimulus onset asynchrony; SOA) menores de 300ms. El objetivo de este estudio fue comparar el efecto de facilitación semántica entre alumnos de tercer grado y alumnos de bachillerato con dos SOAs: 250 ms y 500ms. Los participantes completaron decisiones léxicas ante objetivos que fueron precedidos por primes relacionados o no relacionados. Se encontraron efectos de facilitación semántica en los dos SOAs en alumnos de tercer grado y de bachillerato. Pese al hecho de que no hubo diferencias entre los grupos en la magnitud del efecto de facilitación cuando el SOA era de 250 ms, con SOA de 500 ms la magnitud era mayor en niños, corroborando previos estudios. Se discuten las hipótesis que podrían explicar la presencia de efectos de facilitación semántica en la ejecución de niños cuando el SOA era de 250ms, así como las hipótesis para mayor magnitud de efectos de facilitación semántica en niños cuando el SOA era de 500ms.

Palabras clave: facilitación semántica, decisión léxica, niños, adultos, asincronía de presentación de estímulos.

The semantic priming paradigm is employed as an evaluation of implicit memory and also as a methodological resource to study other cognitive processes, such as semantic memory and meaning access in word reading. The semantic priming effect (SPE) can be understood as an improvement in performance derived from the context, in which a target processing is facilitated by the preceding stimulus (prime) because of a semantic association between them. Once these semantic associations are built throughout development (Hirsh & Tree, 2001), it is supposed that the SPE is not the same in individuals with different ages. For example, Macizo, Gómez-Ariza, and Bajo (2000) compared word associative norms between children and adults and they found a smaller percentage of associates in the adult sample. According to these authors, as age increases, the relations among concepts are refined, reducing the number of associates and the idiosyncratic answers. Besides, reading proficiency is changed by formal education experience, which is reflected in the evaluation of the SPE in written verbal tasks.

In a standard semantic priming experiment, participants are required to perform a lexical decision task (decide if the target is a word or a pseudoword) or a pronunciation/naming task (say the target aloud). …

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