Do Taxonomic and Associative Relations Affect Word Production in the Same Way?

AbstractNaming a picture is more difficult in the context of a taxonomically-related picture. Disagreement exists on whether non-taxonomic relations, e.g., associations, have similar or different effects on picture naming. Past work has reported facilitation, interference and null results but with inconsistent methodologies. We paired the same target word (e.g., cow) with unrelated (pen), taxonomically-related (bear), and associatively-related (milk) items in different blocks, as participants repeatedly named one of the two pictures in randomized order. Significant interference was uncovered for the same target item in the taxonomic vs. unrelated and associative blocks. There was no robust evidence of interference in the associative blocks. If anything, evidence suggested that associatively-related items marginally facilitated production. This finding suggests that taxonomic and associative relations have different effects on picture naming and has implications for theoretical models of lexical selection and, more generally, for the computations involved in mapping semantic features to lexical items.

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