Psychological Research

, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 219–230 | Cite as

The detection of semantic illusions: Task-specific effects for similarity and position of distorted terms

  • Henk J. van JaarsveldEmail author
  • Ton Dijkstra
  • Daan Hermans
Original Article


The effect of task demands on the detection of semantic illusions was investigated. In Exp. 1, subjects were given a detection task with different instructions for accuracy. Less illusions occurred under instructions that stressed accuracy, indicating strategic control of detection rates. In Exp. 2, sentences with dissimilar distorted terms resulted in shorter latencies than sentences with similar distorted terms in a detection task, but in longer response times in a question-answering task. In Exp. 3, the similarity effect was found to vary with the position of the distorted term in combination with task demands. In a verification task, the similarity effect did not differ for the beginning or the end of sentences. In a question-answering task, a significant similarity effect was observed only for distorted terms at the beginning of sentences. We argue that the results indicate minimal depth of semantic processing with respect to different task requirements. Implications for different theoretical accounts of semantic illusions are discussed.


Response Time Detection Rate Significant Similarity Detection Task Task Demand 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henk J. van Jaarsveld
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ton Dijkstra
    • 2
  • Daan Hermans
    • 3
  1. 1.IWTS, Wundtlaan 1University of NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.NICI, University of NijmegenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Applied LinguisticsUniversity of NijmegenThe Netherlands

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