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Orthographic versus Semantic Matching in Visual Search for Words within Lists

Abstract : An eye-tracking experiment was performed to assess the influence of orthographic and semantic distractor words on visual search for words within lists. The target word (e.g., "raven") was either shown to participants before the search (literal search) or defined by its semantic category (e.g., "bird", categorical search). In both cases, the type of words included in the list affected visual search times and eye movement patterns. In the literal condition, the presence of orthographic distractors sharing initial and final letters with the target word strongly increased search times. Indeed, the orthographic distractors attracted participants' gaze and were fixated for longer times than other words in the list. The presence of semantic distractors related to the target word also increased search times, which suggests that significant automatic semantic processing of nontarget words took place. In the categorical condition, semantic distractors were expected to have a greater impact on the search task. As expected, the presence in the list of semantic associates of the target word led to target selection errors. However, semantic distractors did not significantly increase search times any more, whereas orthographic distractors still did. Hence, the visual characteristics of nontarget words can be strong predictors of the efficiency of visual search even when the exact target word is unknown. The respective impacts of orthographic and semantic distractors depended more on the characteristics of lists than on the nature of the search task.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, December 28, 2016 - 3:26:31 PM
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Laure Léger, Jean-François Rouet, Christine Ros, Nicolas Vibert. Orthographic versus Semantic Matching in Visual Search for Words within Lists. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, Canadian Psychological Association, 2012, 66 (1), pp.32--43. ⟨10.1037/a0026111⟩. ⟨hal-01423130⟩



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