Effects of lexicality and pseudo-morphological complexity on embedded word priming

Jonathan Grainger*, Elisabeth Beyersmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Two masked priming experiments investigated the impact of prime lexicality (word vs. nonword) and the pseudo-morphological structure of prime stimuli (pseudosuffixed vs. nonsuffixed) on embedded word priming effects. In the related prime conditions, target words were embedded at the beginning of prime stimuli and were followed either by a derivational suffix (e.g., corner-corn; cornry-corn) or a nonsuffix but orthographically legal word ending (e.g., dragon-drag; dragip-drag). Lexical decisions to target words were facilitated by related pseudosuffixed primes compared with unrelated primes, and this occurred to the same extent for word primes (corner-corn) and nonword primes (cornry-corn). On the other hand, target word recognition was inhibited by related nonsuffixed word primes (dragon-drag), and no priming was found with nonsuffixed nonword primes (dragip-drag). Conditional suffix probability- the probability that a string-initial embedded word will be followed by a derivational suffix in a lexicon of all uninflected morphologically simple and derived words - determined the size of priming effects obtained with nonsuffixed primes. Two main conclusions are drawn on the basis of these findings: (a) the presence of a pseudo-morphological structure in words such as corner limits the impact of lateral inhibitory influences on embedded word priming, and (b) in the absence of a pseudo-morphological structure, one possible factor determining embedded word priming is the likelihood that the embedded word will be followed by a derivational suffix.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-531
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number3
Early online date1 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • morphological processing
  • reading
  • embedded words
  • masked priming


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