Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 272–277

The effect of corpus size in predicting reaction time in a basic word recognition task: Moving on from Kučera and Francis

Cognitive Research

DOI: 10.3758/BF03200655

Cite this article as:
Burgess, C. & Livesay, K. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers (1998) 30: 272. doi:10.3758/BF03200655


Word frequency is one of the strongest determiners of reaction time (RT) in word recognition tasks; it is an important theoretical and methodological variable. The Kučera and Francis (1967) word frequency count (derived from the 1-million-word Brown corpus) is used by most investigators concerned with the issue of word frequency. Word frequency estimates from the Brown corpus were compared with those from a 131-million-word corpus (the HAL corpus; conversational text gathered from Usenet) in a standard word naming task with 32 subjects. RT was predicted equally well by both corpora for high-frequency words, but the larger corpus provided better predictors for low- and medium-frequency words. Furthermore, the larger corpus provides estimates for 97,261 lexical items; the smaller corpus, for 50,406 items.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of CaliforniaRiverside