The orthographic/phonological neighbourhood size effect and set size

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Sage Publications


A growing number of studies have shown that on serial recall tests, words with more orthographic/phonological neighbours are better recalled than otherwise comparable words with fewer neighbours, the so-called neighbourhood size effect. Greeno et al. replicated this result when using a large stimulus pool but found a reverse neighbourhood size effect-better recall of words with fewer rather than more neighbours-when using a small stimulus pool. We report three registered experiments that further examine the role of set size in the neighbourhood size effect. Experiment 1 used the large pool from Greeno et al. and replicated their finding of a large-neighbourhood advantage. Experiment 2 used the small pool from Greeno et al. but found no difference in recall between the large and small neighbourhood conditions. Experiment 3 also used a small pool but the small pool was randomly generated for each subject from the large pool used in Experiment 1. This resulted in a typical large neighbourhood advantage. We suggest that set size is not critical to the direction of the neighbourhood size effect, with a large neighbourhood advantage appearing with both small and large pools.



Orthographic neighbourhood size effect, phonological neighbourhood size effect, set size, serial recall