Testing the weighted salience model of conceptual combination
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In two experiments the Weighted Salience Model (WSM) of conceptual combination was examined. Several of the hypotheses set forth in the WSM were evaluated, including the importance of salience of constituent features, differential interpretation strategies based on similarity, an initial reliance on the modifier as opposed to the head, and a context effect of salience reorganization. Results confirmed that the hierarchy of output dominance within constituent features was important in determining features in final combinations. Additionally, similar pairs were defined with property interpretations more frequently than were dissimilar pairs, and dissimilar pairs were defined with relation interpretations more frequently than were similar pairs. Context effects were demonstrated through the finding that target features were found more often in primed than unprimed pairs. The hypothesis of modifier superiority was not confirmed. These findings indicate that the WSM adds to the current understanding of conceptual combination through a reliance on output dominance and the importance of context. Despite these strengths, changes to the WSM may be necessary if future studies fail to support the importance of the modifier over the head noun.
Patterson, Merryl Joy (2003). Testing the weighted salience model of conceptual combination. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from