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Acta Psychologica Sinica    2019, Vol. 51 Issue (12) : 1291-1305     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.01291
Reports of Empirical Studies |
Effects of embodied simulation on understanding Chinese body action verbs
WANG Bin1,LI Zhirui2,WU Limei3,ZHANG Jijia1()
1 Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China; The State Ethnic Affairs Commission Key Research Center for Language, Cultural, and Psychology; Key Research Center for National Psychology and Education, the National Education Development Center of the Ministry of Education, Beijing 100872, China
2 Mental Health Education and Counseling Center, Huaiyin Normal University, Huaian 223300, China
3 College of Chinese Language and Culture, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510610, China
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Abstract  

Recent approaches on embodied cognition and theories of semantic and conceptual “grounding” have emphasized the role of perceptual and motor skills in language comprehension and action understanding. Evidence on the role of sensorimotor information in language processing has been obtained from behavioral and neuroimaging studies. These findings have been taken as a support for the claim that language is understood through sensorimotor simulations of actions and events being described. The theory on Perceptual Symbol Systems holds that the sensorimotor system participates in the language comprehension process, which is an empirical simulation of a situation through a series of complex language cues. Chinese characters may show different characteristics from English words because semantic radicals are linked with the meaning of these characters. These semantic radicals may affect the embodied effect of Chinese characters.
In the study, authors used single-character body action verbs in Chinese as experimental materials. Body action verbs are words that use body parts to perform mechanical movements. The directional semantic feature of body action verbs reflects the direction of physical space and can be perceived. Experiment 1 investigated the influence of semantic direction on the spatial judgment of an arrow direction in the motion channel under whole word priming. The repeated measurement design of 2 (Chinese character embodied direction: up/down) × 2 (arrow direction: up/down) was adopted. Thirty-five participants volunteered in this study. Experiment 2 investigated the influence of semantic orientation on the spatial judgment of letter orientation in visual channels under whole word initiation. The repeated measurement design of 2 (Chinese character direction: up/down) × 2 (letter position: up/down) design was used. Thirty-eight participants took part in this experiment. Experiment 3 investigated the embodied simulation of the semantic radical and whole character under the radical priming paradigm. Chinese body action verbs formed by semantic radicals “扌” and “?” were used as experimental materials. A within-subject design of 2 (priming type: semantic radical’s priming/control priming) × 3 (character type: consistent/inconsistent) × 3 (SOA: 43 ms/72 ms/243 ms) was used. Before the behavioral experiment, the participants were asked to hold their hands up for one minute to reinforce the bodybuilding experience of having their hands above and their feet below. Character type shows the direction and orientation between the character and its semantic radical. Consistent character type means that the character and its semantic radical have a similar direction and orientation. For example, the semantic radical “?” means “foot, ” which is below the body. Thus, “蹲” is a consistent character, whereas “跳” is an inconsistent character.
Results suggest the following: (1) When Chinese characters are in a downward semantic direction, the downward arrow is judged faster than the upward arrow. When characters are in an upward semantic direction, the direction of the arrow has a null effect. (2) Chinese characters with upward semantic movement can be used to recognize upper letters more quickly and characters with downward semantic movement can be used to recognize lower letters more quickly. (3) In the middle and late stages of Chinese character processing, the response of consistent and inconsistent Chinese characters is significantly different, indicating that the semantic radical is activated from the middle stage of the Chinese character processing until the late stage.
The present findings demonstrate the following: (1) An action-character compatibility effect is present in Chinese body movement verbs in the movement and visual channels. Understanding Chinese body movement verbs is a cross-channel embodied simulation process. (2) The semantic radical activation of the phonogram starts from the middle stage to the late stage of Chinese body action verb processing. A semantic understanding of Chinese body action verbs has an embodied simulation at the whole character and component (semantic radical) levels.

Keywords Chinese body action verbs      semantic radical      the whole character      embodied simulation     
ZTFLH:  B842  
Corresponding Authors: Jijia ZHANG     E-mail: Zhangjj1955@163.com
Issue Date: 21 October 2019
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Bin WANG
Zhirui LI
Limei WU
Jijia ZHANG
Cite this article:   
Bin WANG,Zhirui LI,Limei WU, et al. Effects of embodied simulation on understanding Chinese body action verbs[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2019, 51(12): 1291-1305.
URL:  
http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.01291     OR     http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/Y2019/V51/I12/1291
启动词类 材料举例 平均笔画数 平均频率 平均熟悉性 平均语义透明度
方向向上的肢体动作动词 举, 抬, 跃 12.10 1164 4.20 3.81
方向向下的肢体动作动词 俯, 捶, 跌 11.95 1405 4.26 3.78
  
  
启动词类型 箭头向上 箭头向下
反应时 错误率 反应时 错误率
方向向上的肢体动作动词 484 (75) 1.48 (3.12) 484 (79) 4.91 (6.28)
方向向下的肢体动作动词 494 (76) 5.21 (4.92) 472 (92) 3.33 (4.08)
  
  
启动词类型 字母在上 字母在下
反应时 错误率 反应时 错误率
方向向上的肢体动作动词 429 (77) 2.47(4.69) 446 (78) 3.17 (4.98)
方向向下的肢体动作动词 441 (90) 2.81 (5.17) 426 (69) 3.03 (5.24)
  
  
肢体动作动词词类 材料举例 平均笔画数 平均频率 平均熟悉性 平均语义透明度
具身方向向上 扬, 跃 11.30 978 4.27 3.89
具身方向向下 捶, 跌 11.45 1157 4.26 3.78
  
启动类型 SOA=43 ms SOA=72 ms SOA=243 ms
一致 不一致 一致 不一致 一致 不一致
义符启动
反应时 868 (103) 858 (109) 823 (95) 869 (102) 818 (108) 863 (113)
错误率 11.70 (8.48) 15.74 (9.78) 11.70 (8.48) 13.72 (9.12) 9.47 (7.75) 13.83 (10.23)
控制启动
反应时 875 (119) 854 (114) 857 (101) 851 (125) 858 (112) 871 (120)
错误率 11.91 (8.70) 16.17 (9.68) 10.21 (7.52) 15.32 (10.65) 8.19 (6.87) 15.32 (11.39)
  
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