The perceptual unit in children's word recognition
Boesl, Sharon Lynn
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The present study was conducted to investigate whether young readers can make use of the whole word as the unit of processing under conditions in which symmetry between the linguistic level of the target item and the items contained in the search field was varied. A visual search paradigm was used in which third- and college-grade subjects were required to search for either a predesignated.letter or word. The search field consisted of either a series of nine words or a series of letter-groups. Symmetry was varied across three search conditions: search for a word target item within a field of words, search for a letter target item within a field of words, and search for a letter target item within a field of letter-groups. For both age groups, mean search time was fastest for the word/word search condition. More importantly, mean search time was faster in the letter/word search condition as compared to the letter/letter-group search condition. These results were interpreted as being consistent with a word superiority effect for both age groups and indicated that even young readers can utilize the whole word as a perceptual unit.