Date of Completion


Embargo Period


Major Advisor

James S. Magnuson

Associate Advisor

Jay Rueckl

Associate Advisor

Heather Bortfeld

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The Lexical Quality Hypothesis suggests that the difficulties exhibited by poor readers cascade from deficient representations of phonological, semantic, and orthographic dimensions in lexical memory. This invites questions of what kinds of individual differences in cognitive abilities might lead to differences in lexical quality. In this dissertation, I used artificial lexicon learning studies and individual differences measures of language- and memory-related skills in an effort to understand how differences in component abilities assumed to be important for novel word learning might lead to differences in lexical quality.

I manipulated relationships between phonological, orthographic, and/or semantic features of the artificial lexicon items, such that the novel items themselves had differing levels of lexical quality. The first experiment focused solely on relationships between phonology and semantics; the second and third experiments focused on phonology and orthography. The final experiment combined all three lexical elements into a single word-learning study.

The results of these experiments serve to support the tenets of the Lexical Quality Hypothesis, and suggest that in addition to the linguistic skills explicitly named in the theory, paralinguistic skills may also serve as (consequential) measures of individual lexical quality.