ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (5): 593-606.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.00593

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The Effect of Encoding Effectiveness from the Stimulus on Repetition Blindness

LENG Ying;ZOU Yuhui;MO Lei   

  1. (1 School of Educational Science, Nan Tong University, Nantong 226007, China) (2 School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China) (3 College of Education, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200234, China)
  • Received:2013-06-19 Published:2014-05-24 Online:2014-05-24
  • Contact: MO Lei


Repeating an item in a brief or rapid display usually produces faster or more accurate identifying of the item. However, sometimes the repetition produces the opposite effect that the second occurrence (R2) of a target (R1) in RSVP paradigm often fails to be reported. This phenomenon is called repetition blindness (Kanwisher, 1987). Existing theories of repetition blindness can be classified as activation/inhibition view which holds that the ability to report an item’s occurrence in short time depends on activation of an abstract representation of the item, and construction/attribution view which hold that the variability of repetition blindness when different aspects of the processing episode are changed (Morris, Still, & Caldwell-Harris, 2009). But neither view is able to explain the evidence from studies supporting the other view. Morris et al. (2009) supposed the Competition Hypothesis and challenged those views. According to the hypothesis, inter-item competition in RSVP is the key to initiate repetition blindness. However, the Competition Hypothesis did not explore the effect of encoding effectiveness from the different stimuli in RSVP on the inter-item competition. The present study conducted three experiments with the RSVP paradigm to investigate the occurrence mechanism of repetition blindness. We manipulated the property of target stimuli (English letters or computer symbols) in Experiment 1a and the position of target stimuli (Position 1 and 3 or Position 2 and 4) in Experiment 1b to explore whether the encoding effectiveness of stimuli influenced the processing of repeated items. In Experiment 2, the property of target stimuli (Chinese characters or computer symbols) was manipulated to verify the reliability of the result of Experiment 1 and the rationality of the Competition Hypothesis. Experiment 3 investigated the effect of the encoding effectiveness of non-target stimuli on repetition blindness by manipulating the word frequency of non-target stimuli (high frequency or low frequency). The accuracy rates for reporting R2 were compared using a two-way repeated-measures analysis of variance for each experiment. Results of Experiment 1a showed less repetition blindness on the condition that the target items were symbols. Experiment 1b found that repetition blindness occurred on the condition that the target items were on Position1and Position 3, not on the condition that the target items were on Position2 and Position 4. In Experiment 2, when the non-target stimuli were high frequent Chinese characters, and the target stimuli were high frequent Chinese characters and computer symbols, repetition blindness of the former was larger than that of the latter. In Experiment 3, when the target stimuli were high frequent Chinese characters, repetition blindness occurred on the condition that the non-target items were high frequent Chinese characters, and there was no repetition blindness on the condition that the non-target items were low frequent Chinese characters. Therefore, the results in the three experiments supported the Competition Hypothesis. Further, the present study indicated that either in English letters or in Chinese characters, the encoding effectiveness from the target and non-target stimuli affected the repetition blindness.

Key words: repetition blindness, encoding effectiveness, occurrence mechanism, the competition hypothesis