Transitional probability is not a general mechanism for the segmentation of speech

T. G. Bever, J. R. Lackner, W. Stolz

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24 Scopus citations


Tested the generality of a transitional probability model for the perceptual segmentation of speech. Previous research has shown that clicks in sentences are subjectively located at boundaries between clauses. This might be a reflection of the low transitional probability between clauses rather than a demonstration that syntactic structure is actively used to organize speech processing. Here, Ss indicated the subjective location of a click presented during sentences which varied transitional probability within clauses. Results show that a click in the 1st word of a highly redundant (high-probability) 2-word sequence tends to be subjectively perceived as occurring in the middle of the sequence, while a click in the 2nd word of a low-probability 2-word sentence tends to be perceived as occurring after the sequence. Thus high-probability sequences within clauses subjectively attract clicks into themselves, while low-probability sequences do not, indicating that transitional probability has different effects within and between clauses and thus is not a general mechanism for the active segmentation of speech. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-394
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number3 PART 1
StatePublished - Mar 1969


  • speech perception, transitional probability model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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