The influence of referent type and familiarity on word-referent mapping
Ong, Jia Hoong
Chan, Alice Hiu Dan
Date of Issue2019
School of Humanities
Is our memory for pairs of items dependent on item characteristics? The present study explores this question using a word learning paradigm; specifically, we examined whether referent characteristics, such as referent type (face/object) and familiarity (known/unknown), may influence word-referent mapping. Moreover, we examined this effect across two test sessions to determine if the influence of referent characteristics might be more pronounced over time, and across two age groups (young vs. older adults) to determine if there might be age-related differences. Participants were presented with pseudoword-referent mappings in four referent conditions (face/object × known/unknown) and then were tested with a recognition task immediately after learning, and again after a short delay. Our findings indicated that names for faces were not learned better than names for objects, despite previous literature suggesting that faces are processed differently. We also found that known referents (defined as having a pre-existing label for a referent) were learned better than unknown items but this familiarity advantage was only observed for faces and not for objects. While there were several age-related findings, these might be due to the longer delay between the immediate and delayed tests among the older adults relative to young adults. Taken together, our results suggest that certain referent characteristics do interact and influence our learning of and memory for such pairings.
© 2019 The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.