When words collide: Bayesian meta-analyses of distractor and target properties in the picture-word interference paradigm


  • Bürki-Foschini Audrey
  • Alario F.-Xavier
  • Vasishth Shravan


  • Picture-word interference
  • Bayesian meta-analysis
  • Distractor frequency
  • Word production

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In the picture-word interference paradigm, participants name pictures while ignoring a written or spoken distractor word. Naming times to the pictures are slowed down by the presence of the distractor word. The present study investigates in detail the impact of distractor and target word properties on picture naming times, building on the seminal study by Miozzo and Caramazza (2003) “When more is less: A counterintuitive effect of distractor frequency in the picture-word interference paradigm. Journal of Experimental Psychology. General.” We report the results of several Bayesian meta-analyses, based on 26 datasets. These analyses provide estimates of effect sizes and their precision for several variables and their interactions. They show the reliability of the distractor frequency effect on picture naming latencies (latencies decrease as the frequency of the distractor increases) and demonstrate for the first time the impact of distractor length, with longer naming latencies for trials with longer distractors. Moreover, distractor frequency interacts with target word frequency to predict picture naming latencies. The methodological and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.

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