Academic journal article Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

The GO Model: A Reconsideration of the Role of Structural Units in Guiding and Organizing Text on Line

Academic journal article Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

The GO Model: A Reconsideration of the Role of Structural Units in Guiding and Organizing Text on Line

Article excerpt

Healy (1994) and Koriat and Greenberg (1994) offered different theoretical accounts of the missing-letter effect (MLE) in the letter-detection task, whereby a disproportionate number of letter-detection errors occur in frequent function words. Healy emphasized identification processes, whereas Koriat and Greenberg viewed the structural role of the embedding word to be crucial. Recent research suggests that neither position alone can account for the complete set of observations pertaining to the MLE. The present paper offers a theoretical integration of these competing explanations of letter detection in terms of a GO (guidance-organization) model of reading. This model specifies how structural processing of connected text helps guide eye movements to semantically informative parts of the text, enabling readers to achieve on-line fluency.

In separate, adjacent reviews, Healy (1994) and Koriat and Greenberg (1994) summarized their opposing theoretical positions concerning the processes responsible for the missing-letter effect (MLE). This robust effect refers to the finding that letter detection in connected text is more difficult in frequent function words such as the than in less common words. According to Healy's unitization approach, the MLE discloses the reader's reliance on familiarity in processing text in terms of supraletter units such as syllables, words, or even short phrases. The assumption is that text analysis is a hierarchic process wherein smaller units such as letters, syllables, and even words are processed within the higher order units in which they are embedded. Once a unit at a certain level is identified, readers proceed to the next segment of text without completing the processing of lower level units such as constituent letters. Hence letters are missed most often when they appear in very familiar, unitized words or phrases. In contrast, according to Koriat and Greenberg, the MLE reflects the role of function words as cues for sentence structure (Kimball, 1973). By their structural precedence view, the on-line analysis of text requires the encoding of both structure and meaning, but the processing of structure leads the way to the processing of meaning. Early in text processing, readers monitor text for function morphemes and use them as cues to establish a structural frame into which incoming information can be assimilated. Subsequently, structural cues recede to the background as attention shifts from structure to content. Hence letters are missed most often in function morphemes used to establish a structural frame.

Whereas Healy's (1994) account led to an emphasis on frequency and familiarity, Koriat and Greenberg's (1994) position stressed the structural role of words and morphemes, and the context that determines this role. Both views, however, share the idea that the MLE derives from the hierarchical nature of text processing.

As evidence mounted, it became increasingly apparent that both views must be combined to account for all the results that have been accumulated. The present paper offers a new model, the guidance-organization (GO) model of reading, which provides a theoretical integration of these two competing views. According to this model, unitization processes facilitate the identification of function words that can serve as cues for the structural organization of the sentence. This organization then guides attention to content words and enables on-line semantic analysis and integration. The GO model, then, is an account of how readers coordinate text elements to achieve on-line integration when reading text.

Structural Analysis During Reading: A Role for the Function Words

The assimilation of each text segment into a gradually evolving coherent schema requires a balance between sequential encoding of independent orthographic units and a more global encoding of the structural organization of these units within the schema. Reading can thus be seen to recapitulate the processes underlying speech production, whereby structure is established early and slots within this structure are then filled by their appropriate units (Bock, 1990). …

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