Both Semantic Diversity and Frequency Influence Children’s Sentence Reading

Ascensión Pagán*, Megan Bird, Yaling Hsiao, Kate Nation

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


Semantic diversity–a metric that captures variations in previous contextual experience with a word–influences children’s lexical decision and reading aloud. We investigated the effects of semantic diversity and frequency on children’s reading of words embedded in sentences, while eye movements were recorded. If semantic diversity and frequency reflect different aspects of experience that influence reading in different ways, they should show independent effects and perhaps even different processing signatures during reading. Forty-nine 9-year-olds read sentences containing high/low frequency and high/low diversity words, manipulated orthogonally. We observed main effects of both variables, with high frequency and high semantic diversity words being read more easily. These results show that variations in the amount and nature of contextual experience influence how easily words are processed during reading.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-364
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Studies of Reading
Issue number4
Early online date29 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


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