Individual differences in the production of disfluency: A latent variable analysis of memory ability and verbal intelligence

Paul Engelhardt, M McMullon, Martin Corley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Recent work has begun to focus on the role that individual differences in executive function and intelligence have on the production of fluent speech. However, isolating the underlying causes of different types of disfluency has been difficult given the speed and complexity of language production. In this study, we focused on the role of memory abilities and verbal intelligence, and we chose a task that relied heavily on memory for successful performance.Given the task demands, we hypothesised that a substantial proportion of disfluencies would be due to memory retrieval problems. We contrasted memory abilities with individual differences in verbal intelligence as previous work highlighted verbal intelligence as an important factor in disfluency production. Seventy-eight participants memorized and repeated 40 syntactically complex sentences, which were recorded and coded for disfluencies. Model comparisons were carried out using hierarchical structural equation modeling. Results showed that repetitions were significantly related to verbal intelligence. Unfilled pauses and repairs, in contrast, were marginally (p < .09) related to memory abilities. The relationship in all cases was negative. Conclusions explore the link between different types of disfluency and particular problems arising in the course of production, and how individual differences inform theoretical debates in language production.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1084-1101
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date5 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • speech fluency
  • verbal intelligence
  • executive function
  • disfluency
  • individual differences


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