Juan Mayor & Javier González-Marqués Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain
One of the procedures most systematically used for the investigation of the nature and mechanism of word (W) and picture (P) processing is to construct experimental designs that permit the obtaining of differential reaction times that are conceived as facilitation and interference effects produced by the different variables that intervene in the processing: the data thus obtained have served to confirm or reject the different hypotheses, theories, and models.
In this chapter we carry out an analysis of the facilitation and interference effects obtained in the processing of words and pictures in an attempt to: (a) describe conceptually and operationally the nature and extent of these effects, (b) isolate and evaluate some of the more important variables that are responsible for them, and (c) propose and test a model for word and picture processing that explains these effects in terms of these variables.
They are defined operationally in terms of the shorter or longer reaction times (RTs) obtained in a given experimental condition with respect to another that is considered to be neutral or controlled.
A certain confusion has arisen in the scientific literature due to the frequent use of facilitation and interference effects as absolute data, it being