ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (11): 1249-1258.

### Processing of visual negation

Dexian HE1,Jinhui LI1,Miao ZHOU4,Yajue CHEN1,Yu CHEN1,Xianyou HE1,2,3()

1. 1 School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
2 Center for Studies of Psychological Application, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
3 Guangdong Key Laboratory of Mental Health and Cognitive Science, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
4 Guangzhou Financial Guarantee Center Co., Ltd, Guangzhou 510030, China
• Received:2017-08-09 Published:2018-11-25 Online:2018-09-25
• Contact: Xianyou HE E-mail:xianyouhe@163.com

Abstract:

Previous research focused on the processing of verbal negation, while there was very little research in the area of visual negation. In this study, the lexical decision paradigm was used to explore the mental simulation of visual negation processing in early, middle, and late processing stages to reveal the mechanism of visual negation. To achieve this goal, we performed three experiments. In each experiment on each trial subjects first viewed a picture, and then after a interstimulus interval (ISI) that varied by experiment, viewed a word and had to decide if the word was consistent with the picture or not.

Experiment 1 explored the mental simulation of visual negation in early stage of processing using a short 250ms ISI. Participants reacted more quickly to the negative probes which represented the actual final states, as compared with the affirmative probes which represented the negated states. This implies that, in the early stage of the visual negation processing, the final state has already been simulated in the participants’ representation. Although the results did not confirm the two-step-simulation hypothesis, it supported the suppression / retention hypothesis.

Experiment 2 examined the mental simulation of visual negation in middle stage of processing using a 750ms ISI. The pattern of results was very similar to Experiment 1: participants reacted more quickly to the negative probes that represented the actual final states, as compared with the affirmative probes that represented the negated states. These results imply that the final state was simulated in the participants’ representation during the middle stage of processing.

Experiment 3 explored the late stage of processing using a 1500ms ISI. The results pattern replicated those of Experiment 1 and Experiment 2, that is, the reaction time to negative probes was significantly faster than to affirmative probes. The results demonstrated that in the late stage of the visual negation processing, participants simulated the actual final state of the visual negative pictures but not the negated state of the visual negative pictures. Again, it disconfirmed the two-step simulation hypothesis, but supported the suppression / retention hypothesis.

In sum, taken together the findings from the three experiments, we can draw the following conclusions. The actual state was simulated during the processing of visual negation similarly across the early, middle, and late visual processing stages. These results support the theory that simulation occurs in a single step (the one-step simulation view) rather than the two-step simulation view. Second, the suppression / retention hypothesis for the negated information processing in visual negation has been strongly supported.

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