The selection of homograph meaning: word association when context changes.

Department of Psychology, University of Texas, Arlington 76019-0528, USA.
Memory & Cognition (Impact Factor: 1.92). 08/2000; 28(5):766-73. DOI: 10.3758/BF03198411
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In a study of lexical ambiguity processing, responses to homographs were examined in a word association task. The context of repeated exposures of a homograph was manipulated by requiring a response to a word related to a meaning of the homograph on the trial prior to homograph presentation. A change of that relationship reduced the effectiveness of the contextual item as a prime on the second occurrence of the homograph. In response to a third unprimed occurrence of the homograph, associations were consistent with a conclusion that when semantic contexts are opposed, a "primacy effect" is obtained. The overall effects in the studies reported are seen as consistent with the theoretical view of Simpson and Kang (1994) that processing and responding to one meaning of a homograph result in the inhibition of alternative meanings. A mechanism to account for that inhibition is proposed.

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