Pushing typists back on the learning curve: Revealing chunking in skilled typewriting.

Motonori Yamaguchi, Gordon D. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
222 Downloads (Pure)


Theories of skilled performance propose that highly trained skills involve hierarchically structured control processes. The present study examined and demonstrated hierarchical control at several levels of processing in skilled typewriting. In the first two experiments, we scrambled the order of letters in words to prevent skilled typists from chunking letters, and compared typing words and scrambled words. Experiment 1 manipulated stimulus quality to reveal chunking in perception, and Experiment 2 manipulated concurrent memory load to reveal chunking in short-term memory (STM). Both experiments manipulated the number of letters in words and nonwords to reveal chunking in motor planning. In the next two experiments, we degraded typing skill by altering the usual haptic feedback by using a laser-projection keyboard, so that typists had to monitor keystrokes. Neither the number of motor chunks (Experiment 3) nor the number of STM items (Experiment 4) was influenced by the manipulation. The results indicate that the utilization of hierarchical control depends on whether the input allows chunking but not on whether the output is generated automatically. We consider the role of automaticity in hierarchical control of skilled performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-612
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number2
Early online date30 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Automatic processes
  • Hierarchical control
  • Motor chunk
  • Skilled performance
  • Unit of processing


Dive into the research topics of 'Pushing typists back on the learning curve: Revealing chunking in skilled typewriting.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this