Models of anagram solution

Richardson, John T. E. and Johnson, Paul B. (1980). Models of anagram solution. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 16(4) pp. 247–250.



It is generally accepted that anagrams are solved by means of an interrogation of the lexicon on the basis of an orthographically regular subsequence of the letters given. This study was concerned with the effect upon the solution process of providing the semantic category that contained the solution. In this situation, the instance dominance of the solution in the specified category affected the solution time for anagrams drawn from small categories, but the number of letters in the anagrams did not. For anagrams drawn from large categories, the reverse was true. Moreover, cuing with the appropriate taxonomic category produced a significant reduction in solution time in the case of items from small categories, but not in the case of items from large categories. It is concluded that subjects employ a semantically directed interrogation of the lexicon when they are cued with a small category, but a structurally directed interrogation of the lexicon otherwise.

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