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Descriptiveness and Proper Name Retrieval

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Cohen (1990) hypothesised that the retrieval of proper names is particularly difficult because proper names convey little information about their bearers' attributes. In the present study, this hypothesis was evaluated by using a face naming task. Faces were those of cartoon and comic-strip characters bearing either arbitrary names or descriptive names. Results unequivocally showed that retrieval blocks occurred more often in naming characters bearing arbitrary names than in naming characters bearing descriptive names. Moreover, retrieving arbitrary names that were also common names was as difficult as retrieving arbitrary names that were not common names. These results support Cohen's claim that arbitrariness plays a significant role in the relative vulnerability of proper name retrieval.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 1998

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