Voluntary response selection in free association

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1 Scopus citations


Reaction time (RT) in free association (FA) is assumed to consist of three components: stimulus word encoding, response selection, and response generation. The RT of word naming contains the first and third components only. If response selection is a serial voluntary search it can be manipulated by rewarding response speeding. This would lead the subject to terminate the search sooner. Thus, greater speeding will be achieved for delayed responses, for which search was long, than for undelayed ones. This differential speeding effect was observed in Experriment 1 (N=17), in which the task was FA. Speeding effect was not differential in Experiment 2, in which the subjects (N=16) were given a word naming task. Both of these experiments employed a between‐subjects design. Their results were replicated in Experiment 3 (N=13), which employed a within‐subject design. The results, taken together, suggest that differential speeding is specific to response selection, in accordance with Flekkoy's (1973a, 1981) voluntary selection model. However, they are inconsistent with the traditional associonistic models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-265
Number of pages11
JournalScandinavian Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Free association
  • reaction time
  • response selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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