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Acta Psychologica Sinica
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The effects of category consistency and neighborhood size of the semantic radical on the semantic processing of Chinese character
WANGJuan1; ZHANG Jijia2
(1 School of Education Science, Jiangsu Normal University, Xuzhou 221116, China) (2 Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, The State Ethnic Affairs Commission Key Research Center for Language, Cultural,and Psychology, Beijing 100872, China)
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Abstract  

Semantic radical is an important component in a phonetic compound character which is related to the meaning of the whole character. Characters sharing the same semantic radical comprise the semantic radicals family. The difference induced by the neighborhood size of semantic radicals is called the semantic radicals neighborhood effect. The semantic radicals’ category consistency is also important in processing Chinese characters. Two kinds of consistency effects were included. One of them is the category consistency on word level, indicating the consistency between a category denoted by the semantic radical and a category denoted by the whole word; The other one is category consistency on category level, indicating whether family members of semantic radicals have a very close category. Previous studies have found both the consistency effect and the neighborhood effect of semantic radicals. However, divergence is still existed among these conclusions. It is unknown whether the neighborhood size effect of semantic radicals is adjusted by the category consistency, and whether processing a character is influenced by the family consistency of semantic radicals. The present study was designed to address these questions. Two behavioral experiments and one eye movement experiment were conducted in this study. In Experiment 1, 22 undergraduates were recruited and a 2 (neighborhood size: large, small) × 4 (priming condition:R+S+, R−S+, R+S−, R−S−) design was used. The materials included 128 word stimulus pairs; each condition has 16 word stimulus pairs. Participants were asked to judge the semantic category consistency between two successive words fast and accurately. In Experiment 2, 30 undergraduates were recruited and the same design with Experiment 1 was adopted. After one word was presented in the uppermiddle of the screen, four words were presented below the first word. Participants were then asked to choose two words consistent with the meaning of the first word. The selection proportion and eye movement data including the dwell time, fixation counts, and the first fixation index were also recorded. In Experiment 3, 23 undergraduates were recruited and a 2 (family consistency degree of semantic radical: high, low) × 2 (category consistency between semantic radical and whole word: consistency, non-consistency) experimental design was used. The materials included 72 word stimulus and participants were asked to judge the consistency between the semantic radical and the whole word. Behavioral and eye movement data were analyzed. Word-pairs relation effect was found. The reaction time of R+S+ was shorter than R−S+, while the reaction time of R+S− was longer than R−S−. Differences in relation condition were found in dwell time and fixation counts. Interaction effects were found between the neighborhood size and category consistency. Characters with a large neighborhood size had a higher error rate on the R+S− condition, while characters with a small neighborhood size had a higher error rate on the R+S+ condition; The characters with a large neighborhood size had a higher selection proportion than the small one on the condition of R+S−. Eye movements data showed that Chinese characters with a large neighborhood size were focused earlier on the R−S− condition. In Experiment 3, for transparency words, the higher of the family semantic radical consistency degree, the reaction time was shorter and the error rate was lower; For opaque words, the higher of the semantic radical consistency degree, the error rate was higher. Results indicated that processing a phonetic compound character were influenced by the category consistency on word level, category consistency on category level, and the neighborhood size of semantic radical. The role of semantic radicals’ family characteristics was adjusted by the category consistency on word level. A new model about the semantic radical influencing on the process of the semantic category was proposed.

Keywords semantic radical      category consistency      neighborhood size     
Corresponding Authors: ZHANG Jijia, E-mail: Zhangjj1955@163.com    
Issue Date: 25 November 2016
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WANGJuan,ZHANG Jijia. The effects of category consistency and neighborhood size of the semantic radical on the semantic processing of Chinese character[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.01390
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http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.01390     OR     http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/Y2016/V48/I11/1390
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