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The Lexical Decision-Making Process: A Pseudoword


It is important to review the current literature in order to broaden the overall understanding of the lexical decision-making process. A study suggests that the given concept is mainly comprised of two regimes, which are high levels of competition for low frequency words and revisions for pseudowords (Barca & Pezzulo, 2015). Another research concludes that response time for non-words is strongly correlated with the number of letters and other similar factors (Yap et al., 2015). Both of these studies measured the amount of time required to complete or make the decision regarding the pseudowords, which is critical to understand the overall processing performance during the lexical decision making.

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The selected writings are relevant and related to the designated experiment because they explain and support the derived hypothesis, which focuses on that non-words induce reiteration. One needs to consider these articles because they experimentally show how pseudowords make a subject reassess the word. In addition, they provide insight into the details of the non-words, such as length, letter number, syllables, and others. In a similar fashion, the designated experiment also clearly shows how pseudowords are not perceived as such immediately. The reason of it is that the brain’s lexical processor does not read the entire words letter by letter but rather absorbs it as both image and symbol sequence. Therefore, it is evident that a non-word can be visually and mistakenly recognized as a real one due to similarity, but a slower letter sequence processor reevaluates it as a pseudoword.

Experimental Design

  • IV: the number of non-words presented, their length, similarity to real words, and syllable count.
  • IV: between-subject
  • DV: the time it took to evaluate the pseudoword as a non-word, and its correlational dependence of length and syllable count as well as familiarity to a real word.
  • Hypothesis: a non-word reiteration process involves visual assessment, which is based on the similarity of the pseudoword to the real one, and letter sequence analysis, which rereads the word in order to make the decision.

Real-World Relevance of the Experiment

The real-world implications of the experiment can be manifested in psychology and psycholinguistics, which directly study these concepts. However, they can also be applied in the mainstream media and social media platforms because one might use the fact that a person firstly assesses the word through visual cues before reassessing it with sequential analysis. It can be used in summative and direct priming, where words are shown for a short period of time before they are reassessed sequentially. News organizations, such as CNN, Fox, and others, usually possess some form of agenda in support of a certain political party, and thus, they can utilize the given pattern of word recognition in conjunction with priming.

Presenting the news with the use of specific words, which can induce the priming process, might be used to send a message without actually writing or saying the primed elements. For example, CNN might report on the current administration by using the words that prime the viewer for other words, which were not said or written, that are associated with racism and sexism. Similarly, Fox can use lexical decision making to prime people to be wary of democrats by priming this word with negative connotations. Therefore, it is evident that one can abuse the fact that visual assessment of a non-word comes before sequential letter analysis. The familiarity and length of a pseudoword can also have a great impact on the time required to evaluate it as a real word.


Barca, L., & Pezzulo, G. (2015). Tracking second thoughts: Continuous and discrete revision processes during visual lexical decision. PLOS ONE, 10(2), e0116193. Web.

Yap, M. J., Sibley, D. E., Balota, D. A., Ratcliff, R., & Rueckl, J. (2015). Responding to nonwords in the lexical decision task: Insights from the English Lexicon Project. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 41(3), 597–613. Web.

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