Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department




Faculty Mentor Department


Faculty Mentor

Yoonhee Jang

Faculty Reader(s)

Yoonhee Jang


TOT, quickly presented, phonologically related, phonologically unrelated

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


The “tip-of-the tongue” (TOT) experience occurs when a person cannot fully recall a word (target word) but has a very strong sense of what the word is. TOT is a common and frustrating experience that is often perceived as a memory deficit as opposed to an issue with language. The purpose of this study was to measure the effects of quickly presented phonologically related words (words related in sound) on TOT experiences. Previous studies have shown untimed exposure to words that sound similar (phonologically related) to a target word reduced the occurrences of TOT (James and Burke, 2000; Meyer and Bock, 1992). This study investigated whether phonologically related words presented at 75 milliseconds (msec) during a distraction task would reduce TOT experiences; thus, showing TOT is affected by the words without having to fully process them. This study collected data from college students using an individualized computer experiment. Participants were given a shape identification task that asked to identify a “correct” shape (distractor task). Participants received presentations of the words for 75 msec directly before each alternating shape in the distracter task. Participants were given a TOT evoking question, then asked to respond: 1) answer the question 2) indicate they did not know the answer or 3) indicate TOT for the answer. The experiment compared correct and TOT responses between the 2 conditions of phonologically related and unrelated words. Using T-tests statistical analysis, results showed no significant differences for correct and TOT responses between the 2 conditions. Future research could investigate presenting words at different speeds or try using different methodologies for presenting the words.

Honors College Research Project




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