The influence of multiple readings on the missing-letter effect revisited
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In searching for a target letter while reading, participants make more omissions when the target letter is embedded in frequent function words than when it is embedded in less frequent content words. According to the guidance-organization (GO) model, this occurs because high-frequency function words are processed faster than low-frequency content words, leaving less time available for letter processing. We tested this hypothesis in three experiments by increasing word-processing speed through text repetition, which should translate into higher omission rates. Participants either read the text and searched for the target letter once or read the text three times and searched for a target letter on all readings or the final reading only. In all the experiments in which participants could not anticipate the target letter to be used, results revealed the presence of a large missing-letter effect that was unaffected by familiarity with the text. In addition, when participants knew from the start the target letter to be used on the final reading, the missing-letter effect was eliminated. Repeated search of the same text for different targets increased omissions equally for function words and content words, but this finding was present even when a new text was used, suggesting that repetition of the search task, rather than familiarity with the text, was responsible.
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