Mallorie Leinenger, K. Rayner
Sep 1, 2013
Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Readers experience processing difficulties when reading biased homographs preceded by subordinate-biasing contexts. Attempts to overcome this processing deficit have often failed to reduce the subordinate bias effect (SBE). In the present studies, we examined the processing of biased homographs preceded by single-sentence, subordinate-biasing contexts, and varied whether this preceding context contained a prior instance of the homograph or a control word/phrase. Having previously encountered the homograph earlier in the sentence reduced the SBE for the subsequent encounter, whereas simply instantiating the subordinate meaning produced processing difficulty. We compared these reductions in reading times to differences in processing time between dominant-biased repeated and nonrepeated conditions in order to verify that the reductions observed in the subordinate cases did not simply reflect a general repetition benefit. Our results indicate that a strong, subordinate-biasing context can interact during lexical access to overcome the activation from meaning frequency and reduce the SBE during reading.