Investigating lexical priming using eye tracking data – some “glad news"

Collins, Daisy (2019). Investigating lexical priming using eye tracking data – some “glad news". University of Birmingham. M.A.

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This paper explores Hoey’s (2005) lexical priming theory using eye tracking. As this is a broad theory only a few of the overlapping claims made in the theory are explored. The focus of this study was how synonyms behave with regards to their colligations - the grammatical patterns in which they occur. Hoey claims that they will differ - this was the primary claim under investigation.

The methodology used in this project is eye tracking. This is a psycholinguistic technique which allows researchers to make informed suggestions as to what participants find unexpected or confusing when reading texts, based on the movements of their gaze. By applying this scientific technique to a theory born of corpus data, this project was able to lend empirical evidence in favour of Hoey’s claims.

The findings of the study, overall, support Hoey’s theory - synonyms in pairs with unexpected colligations took longer to process than synonyms in pairs with expected colligations. This increase in time indicates difficulty processing, indicating that synonyms do differ in terms of their colligations and participants are, at at least a subconscious level, aware of this. The results of this study did differ between local and global measures, however. This difference indicates that the effect of expectedness on reading of these colligatory pairs impacts more significantly on initial recognition and access of colligatory pairs, rather than on integration of the pair into the processing of a sentence.

The results of this study not only support an element of Hoey’s lexical theory but also usage based theories of language in general. They highlight the importance of frequency of exposure to language in context and demonstrate how this affects language processing and organisation in the mental lexicon.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
Licence: All rights reserved All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, Department of English Language and Linguistics
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English


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