Modulation of Additive and Interactive Effects in Lexical Decision by Trial History

Michael E. J. Masson, Reinhold Kliegl

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Abstract


Additive and interactive effects of word frequency, stimulus quality, and semantic priming have been used to test theoretical claims about the cognitive architecture of word-reading processes. Additive effects among these factors have been taken as evidence for discrete-stage models of word reading. We present evidence from linear mixed-model analyses applied to 2 lexical decision experiments indicating that apparent additive effects can be the product of aggregating over- and underadditive interaction effects that are modulated by recent trial history, particularly the lexical status and stimulus quality of the previous trial’s target. Even a simple practice effect expressed as improved response speed across trials was powerfully modulated by the nature of the previous target item. These results suggest that additivity and interaction between factors may reflect trial-to-trial variation in stimulus representations and decision processes rather than fundamental differences in processing architecture.

DOI: 10.1037/a0029180

Masson, M.E.J., & Kliegl, R. (2013). Modulation of Additive and Interactive Effects in Lexical Decision by Trial History. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 39 (3), 898-914.