Word Superiority Over Isolated Letters: The Neglected Role of Flanking Mask Contours

Timothy R. Jordan, Oscar de Bruijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

When stimuli are presented in pattern-postmasked displays, performance is better for words than for isolated letters. Contemporary accounts of this word advantage emphasize the role played by mask contours that overlay the positions of letters in each stimulus; however, the precise effect of these overlying mask contours has never been empirically determined. The role of overlying and flanking (falling to the left and right of each word and isolated letter) mask contours in the word advantage over isolated letters was examined. A word advantage was obtained only when more flanking mask contours were shown with isolated letters than with words; when masks covered only the positions of letters in each stimulus, and thus no flanking mask contours were presented, the word advantage was removed or reversed. Implications for contemporary accounts of the word advantage over isolated letters are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-563
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1993

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