Effects of semantic and phonetic similarity on verbal recognition and discrimination

Gail Bruder, Wayne Silverman

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Conducted 3 verbal recognition and discrimination experiments with female undergraduates (N = 307). In Exp. I, with descriptive words accompanying the target and distractor items, items with homophones or unrelated words as distractors were more likely to be correctly recognized than items with homographs or synonyms as distractors. There was no evidence that Ss in the discrimination task could selectively encode only the information relevant to a correct choice. In Exp. II, without homograph items or descriptive words, recognition of items was better when distractors were unrelated words than when they were homophones and poorest when distractors were synonyms. It is concluded that semantic information is more important in recognition than phonetic information. In the discrimination task, performance on items with unrelated words as distractors was as poor as performance on items with synonyms as distractors, and performance on unrelated pairs was poorer than on homophone pairs. No substantial evidence for selective encoding was found in Exp. III. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-320
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 1972



  • verbal recognition & discrimination, semantic & phonetic similarity of distractors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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