The Word Frequency Effect in Word Processing

An Updated Review

Marc Brysbaert*, Pawel Mandera, Emmanuel Keuleers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The word frequency effect refers to the observation that high-frequency words are processed more efficiently than low-frequency words. Although the effect was first described over 80 years ago, in recent years it has been investigated in more detail. It has become clear that considerable quality differences exist between frequency estimates and that we need a new standardized frequency measure that does not mislead users. Research also points to consistent individual differences in the word frequency effect, meaning that the effect will be present at different word frequency ranges for people with different degrees of language exposure. Finally, a few ongoing developments point to the importance of semantic diversity rather than mere differences in the number of times words have been encountered and to the importance of taking into account word prevalence in addition to word frequency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-50
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

Keywords

  • word recognition
  • word frequency
  • learning
  • SUBTLEX
  • LEXICAL DECISION TIMES
  • CONTEXTUAL DIVERSITY
  • RECOGNITION
  • ENGLISH
  • TWITTER
  • PROJECT

Cite this

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title = "The Word Frequency Effect in Word Processing: An Updated Review",
abstract = "The word frequency effect refers to the observation that high-frequency words are processed more efficiently than low-frequency words. Although the effect was first described over 80 years ago, in recent years it has been investigated in more detail. It has become clear that considerable quality differences exist between frequency estimates and that we need a new standardized frequency measure that does not mislead users. Research also points to consistent individual differences in the word frequency effect, meaning that the effect will be present at different word frequency ranges for people with different degrees of language exposure. Finally, a few ongoing developments point to the importance of semantic diversity rather than mere differences in the number of times words have been encountered and to the importance of taking into account word prevalence in addition to word frequency.",
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The Word Frequency Effect in Word Processing : An Updated Review. / Brysbaert, Marc; Mandera, Pawel; Keuleers, Emmanuel.

In: Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol. 27, No. 1, 02.2018, p. 45-50.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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AB - The word frequency effect refers to the observation that high-frequency words are processed more efficiently than low-frequency words. Although the effect was first described over 80 years ago, in recent years it has been investigated in more detail. It has become clear that considerable quality differences exist between frequency estimates and that we need a new standardized frequency measure that does not mislead users. Research also points to consistent individual differences in the word frequency effect, meaning that the effect will be present at different word frequency ranges for people with different degrees of language exposure. Finally, a few ongoing developments point to the importance of semantic diversity rather than mere differences in the number of times words have been encountered and to the importance of taking into account word prevalence in addition to word frequency.

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KW - word frequency

KW - learning

KW - SUBTLEX

KW - LEXICAL DECISION TIMES

KW - CONTEXTUAL DIVERSITY

KW - RECOGNITION

KW - ENGLISH

KW - TWITTER

KW - PROJECT

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