Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Smith, Albert

Subject Headings

Cognitive Psychology


The multistream model of word perception (Allen, Smith, Lien, Kaut, & Canfield, 2009) suggests that word identification generally involves whole-word information, but that when the orthographic form of a letter string is not standard, processing occurs analytically and is slower. For example, within-item case transitions slow responses in lexical decision experiments, in which participants are required to decide if a letter string is or is not a word; a within-item font transition may have a similar effect. Letters within a font are distinct yet related, and are constrained on several parameters to facilitate processing (Sanocki & Dyson, 2012). Font tuning allows design commonalties to be utilized by the perceptual system when processing subsequent items, and changes in font slow processing because the translation rules cannot be carried over (Walker, 2008). We conducted two experiments to investigate the effect of font variation on lexical decision performance. Experiment 1 addressed whether between-item font variation interferes with judgments of lexicality. Planned contrasts showed a marginal difference in response times between pure-font and intermixed-font blocks (t(1, 23)= 1.45, p= 0.07). Although the results do not pose a strong challenge to the idea that decisions on lexicality are not interfered with by random trial-to-trial variation in font, response times in intermixed font blocks tended to be slower than responses in pure font blocks. Experiment 2 investigated the effect of within-item font transition on lexical decision performance. The significant main effect of font homogeneity (t(1, 23)= 1.76, p= 0.04) showed that responses to heterogeneous font items were slower than responses to homogeneous font items. The results of Experiment 2 supported the hypothesis that a within-item font transition slows lexical decision performance.