Publication Date

April 2010

Advisor(s)

Barbara Juhasz

Major

Psychology

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

One variable that affects word processing is concreteness, the degree to which a word’s referent can be experienced by the senses. Concrete words tend to be processed more quickly than abstract words. The dual-coding theory states that processing is aided by image-based representations of words, whereas the context availability model holds that concrete words are processed more easily because they have stronger associated contextual information. This is the first study to test the context availability model by tracking eye movements in a reading task. Participants read abstract and concrete words in predictable and neutral sentences. The results showed a main effect of context and of concreteness. This finding contradicts the prediction of the context availability model that equivalent amounts of contextual information nullify the effect of concreteness. The results support the strategic imagery hypothesis, which states that imagery is used when it is helpful in completing a task.

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