Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Science
The perceptual strategies used by a skilled reader have been a controversial issue and the procedures by which readers identify words have not been clearly deﬁned (Horton. 1989; Kolers & Roediger, 1984; Masson, in press; Tardif & Craik, 1989). The role of word shape remains unclear. Rudnicky and Kolers (1984) suggested that lowercase text may be processed more ﬂuently than uppercase print because the reader may take advantage of features such as the pattern of extensions above and below midline provided by the lowercase letters. It may be that processing of lowercase text includes the utilization of a well-practiced shape sensing skill. With uppercase text the reader may apply a different set of strategies since this typography does not provide the reader with these additional shape features. The purpose of the present experiments was to assess the effect of word shape as manipulated by lower and uppercase letters in word identiﬁcation. We have chosen six different word shape manipulations (fonts) consisting of regular as well as irregular word shape. Fonts l through 3 (lowercase. uppercase and alternating case, respectively) deﬁne the limits of our word shape manipulation, whereas Fonts 4 through 6 manipulate regular word shape by speciﬁc lower and uppercase letter positions. In Experiment 1 we assess the inﬂuence of these different fonts with paragraphs providing context information. Results indicated signiﬁcantly faster processing for the lowercase text than either uppercase or alternating case typography and the equivalent speeds of regular lowercase and Font 6 suggested the importance of lettercase in shape deﬁning positions. In Experiment 2 we attempt to focus encoding more speciﬁcally on perceptual features (word shape) by utilizing a list of 20 unrelated words. Results illustrated no effect of font. Experiment 3 utilized a list of 60 unrelated words and results showed a signiﬁcant effect of font. However, surprisingly, uppercase words indicated a faster processing trend (approaching signiﬁcance) than lowercase words. We discuss the possible implications of these ﬁndings and suggest some directions for future research.
Atkinson, Eve, "The influence of word shape and letter case in word processing" (1989). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 549.