Don't Shoot the Messnger: Memory for Misspellings in Context

Michael J. Tat, Tamiko Azuma

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Scopus citations


    Misspellings in sentences are usually easy to understand by readers due to top-down influences. Although top-down processing allows for fluent reading of misspelled items, the nature of their representations in memory is not known. If representations of misspellings are distinct from representations of correctly spelled words, their influence should be seen in later recognition decisions. In this set of experiments, participants read words and misspellings embedded in sentences and were later given a recognition test. The sentences contained semantically biased or neutral contexts. In Experiment 1, misspellings were created by removing a single letter (e. g., drveway). In Experiment 2, the recognition items probes were presented in uppercase letters (e. g., DRVEWAY) to reduce the visual similarity between study and test items. In Experiment 3, the misspellings were created by substituting visually similar letters (e. g., driweway). In contrast to the previous experiments, in Experiment 4, participants were explicitly told about the memory test to see how response strategies affect performance. Overall, the results indicate that people retain surface feature information about misspellings which seem to inform their memory judgments, and that the processing of this information cannot be strategically controlled.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)215-236
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jun 2012


    • Context effects
    • Episodic memory
    • Language
    • Memory
    • Misspellings
    • Psycholinguistics
    • Top-down processing
    • Word perception

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Psychology(all)
    • Linguistics and Language


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