Why Do We Mipsell the Middle of Words? Orthographic Texture and the Serial Position Effect

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In the current set of studies, a new hypothesis regarding the cause of the commonly observed U-shaped serial position effect (SPE) in spelling is introduced and tested. Instead of greater competition during output or weaker positional representation for word-medial letters, commonly accepted explanations for the cause of the SPE, the orthographic texture hypothesis suggests that variations in the activation strength of individual letters are responsible for the variations typically observed in spelling accuracy as a function of letter position. Sound-letter convergence, a measure of orthographic texture referring to how often a single letter appears in a sound’s spelling, may be responsible for higher accuracy rates at word-flanking letter positions. Indeed, when sound-letter convergence was manipulated, spelling accuracy was as high as or higher in word-medial letter positions than in word-initial or -final letter positions indicating that letter position alone cannot account for the pervasive U-shaped serial position effect.

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