The locus of word frequency effects in skilled spelling-to-dictation

Chua, Shi Min and Rickard Liow, Susan J. (2014). The locus of word frequency effects in skilled spelling-to-dictation. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67(9)



In spelling-to-dictation tasks, skilled spellers consistently initiate spelling of high-frequency words faster than that of low-frequency words. Tainturier and Rapp's model of spelling shows three possible loci for this frequency effect: spoken word recognition, orthographic retrieval, and response execution of the first letter. Thus far, researchers have attributed the effect solely to orthographic retrieval without considering spoken word recognition or response execution. To investigate word frequency effects at each of these three loci, Experiment 1 involved a delayed spelling-to-dictation task and Experiment 2 involved a delayed/uncertain task. In Experiment 1, no frequency effect was found in the 1200-ms delayed condition, suggesting that response execution is not affected by word frequency. In Experiment 2, no frequency effect was found in the delayed/uncertain task that reflects the orthographic retrieval, whereas a frequency effect was found in the comparison immediate/uncertain task that reflects both spoken word recognition and orthographic retrieval. The results of this two-part study suggest that frequency effects in spoken word recognition play a substantial role in skilled spelling-to-dictation. Discrepancies between these findings and previous research, and the limitations of the present study, are discussed.

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