How a question context aids word production

Evidence from the picture-word interference paradigm

Zeshu Shao (Corresponding Author), Joost Rommers

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Abstract

Difficulties in saying the right word at the right time arise at least in part because multiple response candidates are simultaneously activated in the speaker’s mind. The word selection process has been simulated using the picture-word interference task, in which participants name pictures while ignoring a superimposed written distractor word. However, words are usually produced in context, in the service of achieving a communicative goal. Two experiments addressed the questions whether context influences word production, and if so, how. We embedded the picture-word interference task in a dialogue-like setting, in which participants heard a question and named a picture as an answer to the question while ignoring a superimposed distractor word. The conversational context was either constraining or nonconstraining towards the answer. Manipulating the relationship between the picture name and the distractor, we focused on two core processes of word production: retrieval of semantic representations (Experiment 1) and phonological encoding (Experiment 2). The results of both experiments showed that naming RTs were shorter when preceded by constraining contexts as compared to nonconstraining contexts. Critically, constraining contexts decreased the effect of semantically related distractors, but not the effect of phonologically related distractors. This suggests that conversational contexts can help speakers with aspects of the meaning of to-be-produced words, but phonological encoding processes still need to be performed as usual.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Jul 2019

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Keywords

  • conversational context
  • semantic interference
  • phonological facilitation
  • word production

Cite this

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title = "How a question context aids word production: Evidence from the picture-word interference paradigm",
abstract = "Difficulties in saying the right word at the right time arise at least in part because multiple response candidates are simultaneously activated in the speaker’s mind. The word selection process has been simulated using the picture-word interference task, in which participants name pictures while ignoring a superimposed written distractor word. However, words are usually produced in context, in the service of achieving a communicative goal. Two experiments addressed the questions whether context influences word production, and if so, how. We embedded the picture-word interference task in a dialogue-like setting, in which participants heard a question and named a picture as an answer to the question while ignoring a superimposed distractor word. The conversational context was either constraining or nonconstraining towards the answer. Manipulating the relationship between the picture name and the distractor, we focused on two core processes of word production: retrieval of semantic representations (Experiment 1) and phonological encoding (Experiment 2). The results of both experiments showed that naming RTs were shorter when preceded by constraining contexts as compared to nonconstraining contexts. Critically, constraining contexts decreased the effect of semantically related distractors, but not the effect of phonologically related distractors. This suggests that conversational contexts can help speakers with aspects of the meaning of to-be-produced words, but phonological encoding processes still need to be performed as usual.",
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author = "Zeshu Shao and Joost Rommers",
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journal = "Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology",
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N2 - Difficulties in saying the right word at the right time arise at least in part because multiple response candidates are simultaneously activated in the speaker’s mind. The word selection process has been simulated using the picture-word interference task, in which participants name pictures while ignoring a superimposed written distractor word. However, words are usually produced in context, in the service of achieving a communicative goal. Two experiments addressed the questions whether context influences word production, and if so, how. We embedded the picture-word interference task in a dialogue-like setting, in which participants heard a question and named a picture as an answer to the question while ignoring a superimposed distractor word. The conversational context was either constraining or nonconstraining towards the answer. Manipulating the relationship between the picture name and the distractor, we focused on two core processes of word production: retrieval of semantic representations (Experiment 1) and phonological encoding (Experiment 2). The results of both experiments showed that naming RTs were shorter when preceded by constraining contexts as compared to nonconstraining contexts. Critically, constraining contexts decreased the effect of semantically related distractors, but not the effect of phonologically related distractors. This suggests that conversational contexts can help speakers with aspects of the meaning of to-be-produced words, but phonological encoding processes still need to be performed as usual.

AB - Difficulties in saying the right word at the right time arise at least in part because multiple response candidates are simultaneously activated in the speaker’s mind. The word selection process has been simulated using the picture-word interference task, in which participants name pictures while ignoring a superimposed written distractor word. However, words are usually produced in context, in the service of achieving a communicative goal. Two experiments addressed the questions whether context influences word production, and if so, how. We embedded the picture-word interference task in a dialogue-like setting, in which participants heard a question and named a picture as an answer to the question while ignoring a superimposed distractor word. The conversational context was either constraining or nonconstraining towards the answer. Manipulating the relationship between the picture name and the distractor, we focused on two core processes of word production: retrieval of semantic representations (Experiment 1) and phonological encoding (Experiment 2). The results of both experiments showed that naming RTs were shorter when preceded by constraining contexts as compared to nonconstraining contexts. Critically, constraining contexts decreased the effect of semantically related distractors, but not the effect of phonologically related distractors. This suggests that conversational contexts can help speakers with aspects of the meaning of to-be-produced words, but phonological encoding processes still need to be performed as usual.

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