Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 679–698 | Cite as

Semantic Ambiguity: Do Multiple Meanings Inhibit or Facilitate Word Recognition?

Article

Abstract

It is not clear whether multiple unrelated meanings inhibit or facilitate word recognition. Some studies have found a disadvantage for words having multiple meanings with respect to unambiguous words in lexical decision tasks (LDT), whereas several others have shown a facilitation for such words. In the present study, we argue that these inconsistent findings may be due to the approach employed to select ambiguous words across studies. To address this issue, we conducted three LDT experiments in which we varied the measure used to classify ambiguous and unambiguous words. The results suggest that multiple unrelated meanings facilitate word recognition. In addition, we observed that the approach employed to select ambiguous words may affect the pattern of experimental results. This evidence has relevant implications for theoretical accounts of ambiguous words processing and representation.

Keywords

Semantic ambiguity Ambiguity advantage Ambiguity disadvantage Multiple meanings Word recognition 

Notes

Funding

Funding was provided by Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Grant No. PSI2015-63525-P), Research Promotion Program of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Grant No. 2014PFR-URV-B2-37), and Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Grant No. 2015PMF-PIPF-16).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Center for Behavior Assessment (CRAMC) and Department of PsychologyUniversitat Rovira i VirgiliTarragonaSpain

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