Word and Anagrams

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  • Topic: Word, The Order
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  • Published : October 21, 2010
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Anagrams, a group of scrambled letters that can be rearranged to form a word, was investigated as a function of letter positioning on solving ability. Each subject received a sheet with 30 anagrams on it. One group received sheets with anagrams that contained scrambled letters in the middle but the first and last letters were in place. The other group received sheets with anagrams that were fully scrambled. Both groups had 10 minutes to solve the anagrams. The results showed that the first group solved more anagrams with minimal variation and the second group solved fewer anagrams with greater variation. The results indicated that the order of the letters impacted the amount of anagrams solved and the level of variation between groups.

Effect of Fully-Scrambled Words vs. Partially Scrambled Words on the Number of Correct Responses
Anagrams are a group of scrambled letters that can be rearranged to form a word. Much research has been conducted on the topic of peoples’ ability to unscramble letters and form words. Johnson (1966) researched ability to unscramble anagrams. He found several important factors that affect one’s ability to unscramble an anagram. One factor that he found particularly important was the order in which the letters were arranged. Johnson (1966) tested the amount of time taken for participants to create a word with the scrambled letters they were given. He hypothesized that certain anagrams would take longer to unscramble based on the order of the letters. His conclusion supported his hypothesis that the order of the letters in the anagrams significantly affect the time taken, as well as, one’s ability to unscramble the letters and create words.

Mayzner and Tresselt (1958) researched the effect of word frequency and letter order on the amount of time participants required to unscramble words. They concluded that complex letter orders, in addition to uncommon words, took a longer time to unscramble. Like Johnson, Mayzner and Tresselt (1958) concluded that the order of the letters, as well as the frequency of the word, affect the difficulty and one’s ability to unscramble anagrams.

Witte and Freund (2001) studied the effect of retrieval cues on solving anagrams. They presented participants with five- letter anagrams, some of which had the first letter as a retrieval cue, and some of which, did not. They concluded that the first letter retrieval cues helped participants unscramble the words faster than fully scrambled words. Witte and Freund’s findings connected to Johnson’s idea that the letter order of the anagram affects one’s ability to unscramble words.

The current study tested the placement of scrambled letters on the number of words participants could unscramble. It was hypothesized that the group with completely scrambled letters would not produce as many correct responses as the group with partially scrambled letters because it is easier to unscramble anagrams when given the first and last letter of the words. Method

There were 18 participants (3 male, 15 female) between the ages of 20-26 years of age, a seven year range. The participants were students in the Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY). Materials

Materials used were pens to write down unscrambled words and papers that were handed out by the professor, to write words on. Nine papers had the first and last letters in place, such as “UCNLE” (uncle) and nine papers had fully scrambled letters, such as “ENUCL.” Setting

All testing occurred in a classroom (6.1 meters by 3.7 meters) that contained 21 desks for the students and one desk for the professor. The room had gray walls with a chalkboard on the front wall, corkboards on the two side walls and a whiteboard on the back wall. Design

The experiment aimed to measure the difference in the number of correct responses in each group. The first group received a paper with 30 partially scrambled words, such that the first and last...
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