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A new perspective on word association: how keystroke logging informs strength of word association

Aldridge-Waddon, Michelle, Fontaine, Lise, Bowen, Neil and Smith, Tamsin 2018. A new perspective on word association: how keystroke logging informs strength of word association. Word 64 , pp. 218-234. 10.1080/00437956.2018.1535365

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For many years, word association (WA) data has informed theories of the mental lexicon by analyzing the words elicited. However, findings are inconsistent and WA research is still waiting for ‘a breakthrough in methodology which can unlock its undoubted potential’ (Schmitt 2010. Researching vocabulary: A vocabulary research manual. Palgrave Macmillan, 248). In this paper, we offer a new perspective on WA by using keystroke logging (Inputlog, Leijten & Van Waes 2013. Keystroke logging in writing research: Using Inputlog to analyze and visualize writing processes. Written Communication 30(3). 358–92. Online: to captures the processes of word production. More specifically, we analyze pause behavior during a continued, typed, word association task with 30 cue words eliciting 4 responses, per cue, to evaluate the strength of links in lexical selection processes. We show a strong positive correlation between pause length and inter-response location, providing empirical evidence which supports the established hypothesis that as more responses are elicited, links between them become weaker. Furthermore, using Fitzpatrick's response classification (2007. Word association patterns: unpacking the assumptions. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 17(3). 319–31), we found meaning-based responses were most common in the dataset generally, but, they particularly occurred after longer pauses, and exclusively so after the longest pauses. Position and form-based responses, whilst less frequent overall, typically followed the shortest pauses. In our conclusion we highlight the importance of our methodology in fine-tuning ongoing understanding of how we access the mental lexicon.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0043-7956
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 November 2018
Date of Acceptance: 20 August 2018
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2022 09:28

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