From their finding that the substantial magnitude of the Stroop interference that occurs when a participant’s initial fixation is directed at the optimal viewing position is eliminated when the initial fixation is directed at the end of a word, Perret and Ducrot (2010) concluded that initial fixation at the latter position likely prevents reading. In the present study, we further examined this interpretation. To this end, the two conflict dimensions (semantic vs. response) that were confounded in the original work were separated within a semantically based Stroop paradigm (Neely & Kahan, 2001) that was administered with vocal (instead of manual) responses. In line with past findings showing greater interference in the vocal task, the reported results indicated that standard Stroop interference was reduced, but not eliminated, thus making the initial interpretation in terms of reading suppression unlikely. This conclusion is further strengthened by the presence of isolated semantic interference, the magnitude of which remained significant and was unaffected by viewing position. In sum, these results show that initial fixation of the end of a word simply reduces (nonsemantic) response competition.
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On the basis of the view that visual word recognition is automatic, many studies have supported the idea that visual word recognition does not require spatial attention (e.g., Brown, Gore, Carr 2002 and Brown, Joneleit, Robinson et al. 2002; Lachter et al., 2008; Neely & Kahan, 2001; but see, e.g., Lachter et al., 2004; Waechter, Besner, & Stolz, 2011, for a contrasting view).
The underlying idea here is that lexical–semantic processing typically reflects the default set that participants adopt. Note, however, that this account has been challenged by results suggesting that the activation of lexical–semantic representations can be temporarily controlled (see, e.g., Besner, 2001; Risko, Stolz, & Besner, 2005).
For the sake of brevity, we do not report the overall analyses on either response times or percentages of errors. However, the data showed no signs of a speed–accuracy trade-off.
We are grateful to one of the reviewers, Benjamin Parris, for raising this issue and the one that has just been discussed.
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Both authors thank Stéphanie Ducrot for sharing the computer program used in their original study, Johanna Paul for running the experiment, and Melvin Yap, Derek Besner, Benjamin Parris, and one anonymous reviewer for their helpful advice, comments, and suggestions on previous drafts of the manuscript.
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Ferrand, L., Augustinova, M. Differential effects of viewing positions on standard versus semantic Stroop interference. Psychon Bull Rev 21, 425–431 (2014). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-013-0507-z
- Stroop interference
- Viewing position
- Word reading
- Semantic activation