Are they really stronger? Comparing effects of semantic variables in speeded deadline and standard picture naming

Leonie F. Lampe*, Solène Hameau, Lyndsey Nickels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Investigations of effects of semantic variables on picture naming have often been inconclusive, with some studies reporting significant and others non-significant effects. One potential explanation may relate to the specific naming tasks used: While most previous studies have used standard picture naming, others have used speeded naming that requires participants to prioritise naming speed over accuracy. Speeded naming has been suggested to cause enhanced effects of item-inherent word characteristics due to disruptions of cognitive control and resulting modulations of responsiveness to input. Consequently, this study investigated whether effects are stronger in speeded compared to standard picture naming, focusing on six feature-based semantic variables: number of semantic features, intercorrelational density, number of near semantic neighbours, semantic similarity, typicality, and distinctiveness. The results showed few differences in the variables’ effects between the two naming tasks: In the naming latency analysis, the inhibitory effect of distinctiveness was stronger in the speeded naming task, while in the accuracy analysis the effect of number of semantic features was stronger in the standard naming task. These findings cannot, therefore, be exclusively accounted for by increased responsiveness to input in speeded naming and we discuss possible underlying mechanisms. We conclude that, while some differences in effects of semantic variables between previous studies may have been caused by the specific naming task used, differences between studies more likely depend on statistical power and control of other influential variables in the experiment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762–782
Number of pages21
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date14 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • cognitive control
  • input gain
  • Semantic variables
  • speeded picture naming
  • task comparison
  • word production


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