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Ambiguity and its implications for models of word comprehension

One of the established findings in the psycholinguistic literature is that semantic ambiguity (e.g., dog/tree bark) slows word comprehension in neutral/ minimal context, though it is not entirely clear why this happens. Under the “semantic competition” account, this ambiguity disadvantage effect is due to competition between multiple semantic representations in the race for activation. Under the alternative “decision-making” account, it is due to decision-making difficulties in response selection. This project tests the two accounts by investigating in detail the ambiguity disadvantage in semantic relatedness decisions.