On the Categorical Nature of the Semantic Interference Effect in the Picture-Word Interference Paradigm

By Costa, Albert; Alario, F-Xavier et al. | Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, February 2005 | Go to article overview

On the Categorical Nature of the Semantic Interference Effect in the Picture-Word Interference Paradigm


Costa, Albert, Alario, F-Xavier, Caramazza, Alfonso, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review


Two picture-word interference experiments are reported in which the boundaries of the semantic interference effect are explored. In both experiments, participants named pictures (e.g., a picture of a car) that appeared with superimposed word distractors. Distractor words from the same semantic category as the word for the picture (e.g., CAE) produced semantic interference, whereas semantically related distractors from a different category (e.g., BUMPER) led to semantic facilitation. In Experiment 2, the semantic facilitation from semantically related distractors was replicated. These results indicate that a semantic relationship between picture and distractor does not necessarily lead to interference and in fact can lead to facilitation. In all but one case tested until now, a semantic relationship between picture and distractor has led to semantic facilitation. The implications of these results for the assumption that the semantic interference effect arises as a consequence of lexical competition are discussed.

The picture-word interference paradigm, in which participants name pictures while ignoring distractor words, has been used to inform both theories of attention and theories of language production (see, e.g., MacLeod, 1991, for an overview). A well established effect in this paradigm is the semantic interference effect (SIE): When the distractor word and the picture belong to the same semantic category (e.g., CAT, dog), naming latencies are longer than when they are unrelated (e.g., MAT, dog; see, Glaser & Dungelhoff, 1984; Glaser & Glaser, 1989; La Heij, 1988; Lupker, 1979; Rosinski, 1977).1 In the context of language production research, the SIE has been interpreted as supporting the assumption of lexical selection by competition (see, e.g., Roelofs, 1992; Schriefers, Meyer, & Levelt, 1990). Here, we evaluate such an interpretation and bring experimental data that help to understand the origin of the SIE.

Many models of lexical access assume that the ease with which a lexical node is selected depends not only on its level of activation but also on that of other lexical nodes (e.g., Costa & Caramazza, 2002; Roelofs, 1992; Starreveld & La Heij, 1995). If at the time of selection other lexical nodes are highly activated, selection of the target lexical node will be delayed. The SIE is assumed to reveal the greater lexical competition produced by related than by unrelated distractors. Related distractors interfere more because they are, hypothetically, more activated than unrelated distractors. This differential level of activation arises because the picture's semantic representation (dog) activates the lexical node of the related distractor (CAT) but not that of the unrelated distractor (MAT; see Roelofs, 1992). As a result, the activation level of the lexical node CAT is higher (i.e., it receives activation from two sources: the picture's semantic representation and the distractor presentation) than that of the distractor MAT (which receives activation from one source only: the distractor presentation), which makes the former a stronger competitor than the latter.

However, there are three observations that are problematic for the interpretation of the SIE in terms of lexical selection by competition. First, if part of the interference produced by a distractor is due to lexical competition, then lexical nodes with relatively low levels of activation (low-frequency words) should interfere less than those with higher levels of activation (high-frequency words). However, this is not the case; low-frequency distractors interfere more than high-frequency distractors do (Miozzo & Caramazza, 2003).

Second, if the SIE reflects lexical competition, then it should not be present when verbal responses are not necessary. However, semantic interference (SI) has been observed for manual responses (Lupker & Katz, 1981; but see Schriefers et al., 1990).

Third, of special interest in the present context is the observation that a semantic relationship between target and distractors does not always lead to SI. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

On the Categorical Nature of the Semantic Interference Effect in the Picture-Word Interference Paradigm
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.