Short Article: The interaction of word frequency and word class: A test of the GO model's account of the missing-letter effect
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When asked to detect target letters while reading a text, participants miss more letters in frequent function words than in less frequent content words. In this phenomenon, known as the missing-letter effect, two factors covary: word frequency and word class. According to the GO model, there should be an interaction between word class and word frequency with more omissions for function than for content words only among high-frequency words. This pattern would be due to the fact that function words could only assume a structure-supporting role if they are identified rapidly, which is only possible for high-frequency words. These predictions were tested by assessing omission rate for frequent and rare function and content words. Results lend support to the GO model with more omissions for frequent than for rare words, and more omissions for the function than for the content word among high-frequency words, but not among low-frequency words. These results were observed both in English (Experiment 1) and in French (Experiment 2).
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