A multilingual preregistered replication of the semantic mismatch effect on serial recall. Journal Articles uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • Visual-verbal serial recall is disrupted when task-irrelevant background speech has to be ignored. Contrary to previous suggestion, it has recently been shown that the magnitude of disruption may be accentuated by the semantic properties of the irrelevant speech. Sentences ending with unexpected words that did not match the preceding semantic context were more disruptive than sentences ending with expected words. This particular instantiation of a deviation effect has been termed the semantic mismatch effect. To establish a new phenomenon, it is necessary to show that the effect can be independently replicated and does not depend on specific boundary conditions such as the language of the stimulus material. Here we report a preregistered replication of the semantic mismatch effect in which we examined the effect of unexpected words in 4 different languages (English, French, German, and Swedish) across 4 different laboratories. Participants performed a serial recall task while ignoring sentences with expected or unexpected words that were recorded using text-to-speech software. Independent of language, sentences ending with unexpected words were more disruptive than sentences ending with expected words. In line with previous results, there was no evidence of habituation of the semantic mismatch effect in the form of a decrease in disruption with repeated exposure to the occurrence of unexpected words. The successful replication and extension of the effect to different languages indicates the expression of a general and robust mechanism that reacts to violations of expectancies based on the semantic content of the irrelevant speech. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).


  • Röer, Jan Philipp
  • Bell, Raoul
  • Buchner, Axel
  • Saint-Aubin, Jean
  • Sonier, René-Pierre
  • Marsh, John E
  • Moore, Stuart B
  • Kershaw, Matthew BA
  • Ljung, Robert
  • Arnström, Sebastian

publication date

  • July 2022