Disentangling Context Availability and Concreteness in Lexical Decision and Word Translation

Janet G. Van Hell, Annette M.B. De Groot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


This study examines contrasting predictions of the dual coding theory and the context availability hypothesis regarding concreteness effects in monolingual and bilingual lexical processing. In three experiments, concreteness was controlled for or confounded with rated context availability. In the first experiment, bilingual subjects performed lexical decision in their native language (Dutch, L1). In the second experiment, lexical decision performance of bilinguals in their second language (English, L2) was examined. In the third experiment, bilinguals translated words "forwards" (from L1 to L2) or "backwards" (from L2 to L1). Both monolingual and bilingual tasks showed a concreteness effect when concreteness was confounded with context availability. However, concreteness effects disappeared when abstract and concrete words were matched on context availability, and even occasionally reversed. Implications of these results for theories that account for concreteness effects, particulary in bilingual processing, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-63
Number of pages23
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A: Human Experimental Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology


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