The nominal competitor effect: when one name is better than two

Tim Valentine, Jarrod Hollis, Viv Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bredart, Valentine, Calder and Gassi (1995) described an interactive activation and competition (lAC) model in which the lexical
representations of people's names have inhibitory connections between each other, but do not receive inhibition from the
representation of biographical properties. The model predicts that people would be slower to name a celebrity for whom two names are
equally available than they would be to name an equally familiar celebrity for who m only one name is available. However, naming
should only be slowed by competition from a competing name; a highly available biographical property should not increase face
naming latency. These predictions were confirmed in a simulation of the model. The effect is referred to as the nominal competitor
effect. Experiment 1 showed that participants who had practiced naming actors using both the actor's name (e.g. John Cleese) and the
character's name (e.g. Basil Fawlty) were slower to produce the actor's name at test than were participants who had practiced
producing only the actor's name. However, practice in naming the relevant television series (e.g. Fawlty Towers) did not inhibit
subsequent production of the actor's name. In contrast to the semantic competitor effect in picture naming, the effect reported here was
found to be long-lasting (Experiment 2).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)749-754
JournalProceedings of the 21st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes


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