Terminating and exhaustive search in lexical access

Kenneth I. Forster*, Elizabeth S. Bednall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Citations (Scopus)


Two experiments which test predictions derived from the assumption that lexical access involves a search process are reported. In the first experiment, test items must be classified as ambiguous or unambiguous, and in the second experiment, they are classified according to their syntactic properties. In both experiments, it is shown that when the target of the search is a nonexistent entry, an exhaustive search is involved, even though the test items are words. Further, in these conditions, frequency of occurrence is no longer related to decision time, as it is in lexical decision experiments. It is concluded that the search model adequately explains the procedure whereby the most common meaning of a homograph is accessed, but that the less common meaning is accessed in some completely different manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-61
Number of pages9
JournalMemory & Cognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1976
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Terminating and exhaustive search in lexical access'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this