Word and Pseudoword Superiority Effects: Evidence From a Shallow Orthography Language

Enrico Ripamonti, Claudio Luzzatti, Pierluigi Zoccolotti, Daniela Traficante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Word Superiority Effect (WSE) denotes better recognition of a letter embedded in a word rather than in a pseudoword. Along with WSE, also a Pseudoword Superiority Effect (PSE) has been described: it is easier to recognize a letter in a legal pseudoword than in an unpronounceable nonword. At the current state of the art, both WSE and PSE have been mainly tested with English speakers. The present study uses the Reicher-Wheeler paradigm with native speakers of Italian (a shallow orthography language). Differently from English and French, we found WSE for RTs only, whereas PSE was significant for both accuracy and reaction times (RTs). This finding indicates that, in the Reicher-Wheeler task, readers of a shallow orthography language can effectively rely on both the lexical and the sublexical routes. As to the effect of letter position, a clear advantage for the first letter position emerged, a finding suggesting a fine-grained processing of the letter strings with coding of letter position, and indicating the role of visual acuity and crowding factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Aug 3 2017


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