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Word association task responses prime associations in subsequent trials

David Playfoot Orcid Logo, Ondrej Burysek

Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

Swansea University Authors: David Playfoot Orcid Logo, Ondrej Burysek

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Abstract

The word association task has been used extensively in psychological and linguistic research as a way of measuring connections between words in the mental lexicon. Interpretation of word association data has assumed that responses represent the strongest association between cue word and response, bu...

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Published in: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
ISSN: 1747-0218 1747-0226
Published: SAGE Publications 2024
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa65731
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Abstract: The word association task has been used extensively in psychological and linguistic research as a way of measuring connections between words in the mental lexicon. Interpretation of word association data has assumed that responses represent the strongest association between cue word and response, but there is evidence that participant behaviour can be affected by task instructions and design. The current study investigated whether word association responses can be primed by the participants’ own response to the preceding cue – that is, whether the order in which cues are presented alters the responses that are generated. Results showed that the proportion of participants who provide a particular association (e.g. acid – RAIN) is greater when their response to the previous cue in the list is also associated with rain (e.g. parasol - UMBRELLA). The same is not true when the two cues are presented non-consecutively. Word association tasks should be administered such that the order in which cues are presented is random for every participant so as to avoid unintentional contamination of associative strength data.
Keywords: Word association; priming; semantic networks
College: Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
Funders: Swansea University