Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Lee Wurm


While research into the role of semantic structure in the recognition of written and spoken words has grown, it has not looked specifically at the role of conversational context on the recognition of isolated words. This study was a corpus-based and behavioral exploration of a new semantic variable - sociality - and used on-line behavioral testing to obtain new word recognition data using the visual and auditory lexical decision tasks. The results consistently demonstrated that sociality is one of the most robust predictors of lexical decision performance. Overall, it appears that the visual lexical decision task is quite sensitive to the likelihood of words being used in conversations about people, and there is evidence suggesting this effect is multimodal and may extend beyond lexical decision.