Anchoring in 4- to 6-year-old children relates to predictors of reading

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies suggest that anchoring, a short-term dynamic and implicit process that allows individuals to benefit from contextual information embedded in stimulus sequences, might be causally related to reading acquisition. Here we report findings from two experiments in which two previously untested predictions derived from this anchoring hypothesis were tested: (a) that anchoring facilitates rapid naming and phonological short-term memory in children prior to the onset of formal reading instruction and (b) that anchoring makes a unique contribution to performance in two early predictors of reading (letter knowledge and phonological awareness). In line with those predictions, naming times were faster and memory spans were longer under conditions that encouraged the use of anchoring processes than under conditions that afforded little anchoring. Furthermore, performance in the anchoring-affording condition predicted significant amounts of variance in phonological awareness and letter knowledge even after controlling for the contribution of the conditions that did not afford anchoring. Therefore, we suggest that anchoring might contribute to the development of reading-related processes during the preschool years independent of the development of specific reading-related skills such as phonological processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-416
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Legacy Heritage Program of the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 1842/07 ). We thank Maya First and Liron Nevet for help with data collection, Michal Shany for suggesting measures of early reading in Hebrew, and Merav Ahissar and Ravit Cohen-Mimran for helpful discussions of the findings.


  • Cognitive development
  • Contextual facilitation
  • Domain-general cognitive functions
  • Letter knowledge
  • Phonological awareness
  • Reading development
  • Statistical learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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