Regular and reversed word length effects in picture naming

Antje Meyer, Eva Belke, C Haecker, L Mortensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)


Griffin [Griffin, Z. M. (2003). A reversed length effect in coordinating the preparation and articulation of words in speaking. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 10, 603-609.] found that speakers naming object pairs spent more time before utterance onset looking at the second object when the first object name was short than when it was long. She proposed that this reversed length effect arose because the speakers' decision when to initiate an utterance was based, in part, on their estimate of the spoken duration of the first object name and the time available during its articulation to plan the second object name. In Experiment I of the present study, participants named object pairs. They spent more time looking at the first object when its name was monosyllabic than when it was trisyllabic, and, as in Griffin's study, the average gaze-speech lag (the time between the end of the gaze to the first object and onset of its name, which corresponds closely to the pre-speech inspection time for the second object) showed a reversed length effect. Experiments 2 and 3 showed that this effect was not due to a trade-off between the time speakers spent looking at the first and second object before speech onset. Experiment 4 yielded a reversed length effect when the second object was replaced by a symbol (x or +), which the participants had to categorise. We propose a novel account of the reversed length effect, which links it to the incremental nature of phonological encoding and articulatory planning rather than the speaker's estimate of the length of the first object name. (C) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-231
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2007


  • word length effects
  • speech planning
  • picture naming
  • eye movements


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