GERNSBACHER, M. A. , & ROBERTSON, R. R. W. (1995). Reading skill and suppression revisited. Psychological Science, 6, 165-169.
Gernsbacher (1993; Psychological Science, 4,294-298) reported that less-skilled readers are less able to quickly suppress irrelevant information (e.g., the contextually inappropriate meaning of a homograph, such as the playing-card meaning of spade, in the sentence, He dug with the spade, or the inappropriate form of a homophone, such as patience, in the sentence, He had lots of patients). In the current research, we investigated a ramification of that finding: If less-skilled readers are less able to suppress a contextually inappropriate meaning of a homograph, perhaps less-skilled readers might be better than more-skilled readers at comprehending puns. However, intuition and previous research suggest against this hypothesis, as do the results of the research presented here. On a task that required accepting, rather than rejecting, a meaning of a homograph that was not implied by a sentence context, more-skilled readers responded more rapidly than less-skilled readers. In contrast, on a task that required accepting a meaning of a homograph that was implied by the sentence context, more- and less-skilled readers performed equally well. We conclude that more-skilled readers are more able to rapidly accept inappropriate meanings of homographs because they are more skilled at suppression (which in this case involves suppressing the appropriate meanings).