Word frequency has similar effects in picture naming and gender decision: A failure to replicate Jescheniak and Levelt (1994)
Corps, R. E., & Meyer, A. S.
Word frequency has similar effects in picture naming and gender decision: A failure to replicate Jescheniak and Levelt (1994). Acta Psychologica, 241
: 104073. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2023.104073.
Word frequency plays a key role in theories of lexical access, which assume that the word frequency effect (WFE, faster access to high-frequency than low-frequency words) occurs as a result of differences in the representation and processing of the words. In a seminal paper, Jescheniak and Levelt (1994) proposed that the WFE arises during the retrieval of word forms, rather than the retrieval of their syntactic representations (their lemmas) or articulatory commands. An important part of Jescheniak and Levelt's argument was that they found a stable WFE in a picture naming task, which requires complete lexical access, but not in a gender decision task, which only requires access to the words' lemmas and not their word forms. We report two attempts to replicate this pattern, one with new materials, and one with Jescheniak and Levelt's orginal pictures. In both studies we found a strong WFE when the pictures were shown for the first time, but much weaker effects on their second and third presentation. Importantly these patterns were seen in both the picture naming and the gender decision tasks, suggesting that either word frequency does not exclusively affect word form retrieval, or that the gender decision task does not exclusively tap lemma access.