Error biases in inner and overt speech: Evidence from tongue twisters

Martin Corley, Paul H. Brocklehurst, H. Susannah Moat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To compare the properties of inner and overt speech, Oppenheim and Dell (2008) counted participants' self-reported speech errors when reciting tongue twisters either overtly or silently and found a bias toward substituting phonemes that resulted in words in both conditions, but a bias toward substituting similar phonemes only when speech was overt. Here, we report 3 experiments revisiting their conclusion that inner speech remains underspecified at the subphonemic level, which they simulated within an activation-feedback framework. In 2 experiments, participants recited tongue twisters that could result in the errorful substitutions of similar or dissimilar phonemes to form real words or nonwords. Both experiments included an auditory masking condition, to gauge the possible impact of loss of auditory feedback on the accuracy of self-reporting of speech errors. In Experiment 1, the stimuli were composed entirely from real words, whereas, in Experiment 2, half the tokens used were nonwords. Although masking did not have any effects, participants were more likely to report substitutions of similar phonemes in both experiments, in inner as well as overt speech. This pattern of results was confirmed in a 3rd experiment using the real-word materials from Oppenheim and Dell (in press). In addition to these findings, a lexical bias effect found in Experiments 1 and 3 disappeared in Experiment 2. Our findings support a view in which plans for inner speech are indeed specified at the feature level, even when there is no intention to articulate words overtly, and in which editing of the plan for errors is implicated. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-175
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


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