Masked suffix priming and morpheme positional constraints

Davide Crepaldi, Lara Hemsworth, Colin Davis, Kathleen Rastle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
424 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Although masked stem priming (e.g., dealer–DEAL) is one of the most established effects in visual word identification, it is less clear whether primes and targets sharing a suffix (e.g., kindness–WILDNESS) also yield facilitation. In a new take on this issue, we show that prime nonwords facilitate lexical decisions to target words ending with the same suffix (sheeter–TEACHER) compared to a condition where the critical suffix was substituted by another one (sheetal–TEACHER) or by an unrelated nonmorphological ending (sheetub– TEACHER). We also show that this effect is genuinely morphological, as no priming emerged in noncomplex items with the same orthographic characteristics (sportel–BROTHEL vs. sportic–BROTHEL vs. sportur–BROTHEL). In a further experiment, we took advantage of these results to assess whether suffixes are recognized in a position-specific fashion. Masked suffix priming did not emerge when the relative order of stems and suffixes was reversed in the prime nonwords—ersheet did not yield any time saving in the identification of teacher as compared to either alsheet or obsheet. We take these results to show that –er was not identified as a morpheme in ersheet, thus indicating that suffix identification is position specific. This conclusion is in line with data on interference effects in nonword rejection and strongly constrains theoretical proposals on how complex words are identified. In particular, because these findings were reported in a masked priming paradigm, they suggest that positional constraints operate early, most likely at a prelexical level of morpho-orthographic analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-128
Number of pages16
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Volume69
Issue number1
Early online date11 Mar 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2015

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Language

Keywords

  • Visual word identification
  • Suffix identification
  • Position coding
  • Masked suffix priming

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