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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2007 May;33(3):604-14.

When bees hamper the production of honey: lexical interference from associates in speech production.

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Department of PsychologyHumboldt-University Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


In this article, the authors explore semantic context effects in speaking. In particular, the authors investigate a marked discrepancy between categorically and associatively induced effects; only categorical relationships have been reported to cause interference in object naming. In Experiments 1 and 2, a variant of the semantic blocking paradigm was used to induce two different types of semantic context effects. Pictures were either named in the context of categorically related objects (e.g., animals: bee, cow, fish) or in the context of associatively related objects from different semantic categories (e.g., apiary: bee, honey, bee keeper). Semantic interference effects were observed in both conditions, relative to an unrelated context. Experiment 3 replicated the classic effects of categorical interference and associative facilitation in a picture-word interference paradigm with the material used in Experiment 2. These findings suggest that associates are active lexical competitors and that the microstructure of lexicalization is highly flexible and adjustable to the semantic context in which the utterance takes place.

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