Lexical access and lexical decision: mechanisms of frequency sensitivity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


Three models of lexical access and lexical decision-the serial search model, the two-dictionary model, and a parallel-access, criterion-bias model-were tested in a large experiment (148 subjects, 458 words) comparing the effects of mixed- and blocked-frequency presentation on correct lexical decision times. Reaction times were faster for high-frequency words in the blocked, pure-frequency condition than in the mixed-frequency one; medium-frequency words showed less of a difference; and low-frequency words showed no appreciable difference at all. These results corroborate and extend Glanzer and Ehrenreich's (Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1979, 18, 381-398) empirical results with this paradigm. They strongly imply that changes in decision criteria underlie the reaction time differences Glanzer and Ehrepreich and we found. This evidence places further constraints on theories of lexical access, which may be more easily accomodated by parallel models than by serial ones. Glanzer and Ehrenreich's two-dictionary model is not supported by this data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-44
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Lexical access and lexical decision: mechanisms of frequency sensitivity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this