Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Brett Digoldi

Second Advisor

Dr Amanda Blackmore


When people read a short discourse, both more and less skilled readers make word associations. However, it has also been found that, whereas more skilled readers generate inferences from the text, less skilled readers do not (Long, Oppy, & Seely, 1994). The present study partially replicates and extends the study of Long et al. (1994) by investigating the pattern of word associations and whether less skilled readers may be able to generate inferences if given more time to process the discourse. In particular, the study investigates whether word association are made and inferences are drawn as part of an automatic or an attentional cognitive process. Several models of cognitive processing are compared. The design of the study was a 2 skill level (more skilled/less skilled readers) x 2 target type (associate and inference words) x 2 target congruence (appropriateness or inappropriateness to the context of the discourse) x 3 SOAs (Stimulus Onset Asynchronies or processing time allowed) (400msec, 750msec, and 1500msec). Ninety-six university social sciences students (20 males and 76 females) undertook a lexical decision task, and their performance in terms of response times and error rates was analysed. The pattern of responses found for word associations in Long et al.'s study was not replicated in the present study as the priming effect for word associations did not occur. A priming effect for inferences did not occur andd it was found that giving less skilled readers more time to process inference words did not assist them to generate inferences. Both groups of readers were raster in their responses to associate words than to inference words. Future studies could investigate finding an accurate baseline from which to measure priming.