Error in proofreading: Evidence of syntactic control of letter processing?

Ralph N. Haber, Robert M. Schindler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


25 adults instructed to circle all misspellings they encountered while reading prose were less likely to detect misspellings in function words than in content words of equal length. Misspellings that changed the overall shape of a word were more likely to be detected than ones that did not. The latter effect was larger for function than for content words, suggesting that function words may often be identified by their overall shape rather than by analysis of their individual letters. Though results show that word shape was used in word processing, it was not clear whether the differences between function and content words were due to differences in their familiarity or differences in their redundancy. The intrinsic confounding of word type with frequency of occurrence and length is discussed, and a method for manipulating redundancy separately from familiarity is suggested. (26 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)573-579
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • detection of misspellings in form vs content words while reading prose, adults


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