Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Stephen J. Lupker


Semantic neighborhood density’s effects on the processing of ambiguous words were examined in three lexical decision experiments. Semantic neighborhoods were defined in terms of semantic set size and connectivity in Experiment 1, and in terms of semantic set size in Experiments 2 and 3. In Experiment 1, set size, connectivity, and ambiguity were crossed. An ambiguity disadvantage was observed for large set, high connectivity words, and there was some suggestion of an ambiguity advantage for small set, high connectivity words. Experiments 2 and 3 held connectivity constant at a high level, and set size and ambiguity were crossed, with Experiment 3 using pseudohomophone nonwords. Neither experiment produced an ambiguity advantage. Participants responded faster to unambiguous words relative to ambiguous words, particularly for large set size words, essentially supporting Experiment 1’s results. These results are discussed within a framework in which meaning-level competition can affect the recognition of semantically ambiguous words.

Preliminary Pages.pdf (86 kB)
This file contains the title page, abstract, acknowledgements, table of contents, and list of tables that would be placed at the very beginning of the thesis. These were put on a separate file because it was the only possible way to resolve certain formatting issues with the preliminary pages (i.e., the preliminary pages are required to use Roman numerals. However, if I used Roman numerals in the preliminary pages, there was no possible way for me to format it so the numerals did not appear in the rest of the document, so I needed to separate the preliminary pages from the rest of the document to format it properly).