Busting a myth with the Bayes Factor: Effects of letter bigram frequency in visual lexical decision do not reflect reading processes

Contributors:
  1. Claudio Mulatti

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Description: Psycholinguistic researchers identify linguistic variables and assess if and how these affect cognitive processes. One such variable is letter bigram frequency, or the frequency with which a given pair of letters co-occurs in an orthography. While early studies have shown that bigram frequency affects visual word recognition, subsequent, well-controlled studies have failed to show such an effect. Still, researchers continue to use it as a control variable in psycholinguistic experiments. We propose two reasons for the persistence of this variable: (1) Studies have reported no evidence for an effect of bigram frequency, but this cannot provide evidence for no effect. (2) The theoretical implications of a bigram frequency have been largely neglected. We address the first issue by performing Bayes Factor tests on both a matched item set and large-scale studies, and the second by discussing possible theoretical implications. We find no effects of bigram frequency effects for lexical decisions, though there is some evidence for an effect in reading aloud.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

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