ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2013, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (6): 614-625.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.00614

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Preview Benefits and Word Segmentations When Reading Chinese

LIU Zhifang;YAN Guoli;ZHANG Zhijun;PAN Yun;YANG Guifang   

  1. (1 Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310028, China) (2 College of Teacher Education, Ningbo University, Ningbo 315211, China) (3 Academy of Psychology and Behavior, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300074, China) (4 Department of Psychology, GuiZhou Normal University, Guiyang 550001, China)
  • Received:2012-03-11 Published:2013-06-25 Online:2013-06-25
  • Contact: ZHANG Zhijun

Abstract: Recently, a number of studies have confirmed that Chinese readers could obtain linguistic information from word n+1 when it was in parafoveal vision. However, there was no confirmation that Chinese readers could obtain preview benefits from word n+2 (Yan, et. al., 2009; Yang, et. al., 2009; Yen, et. al., 2009; Rayner, et. al., 2003). The preview benefit effects received in a boundary paradigm could not exclude the effects of word segmentation. Therefore, there is no evidence that Chinese readers process the meaning of word n+1 by the word unit. Two experiments were conducted using a new eye-movement contingent display technology to clarify the confusion in the present study. The Chinese sentences used in both experiments consisted of 7 to 10 two-character words. There were four treatments of Chinese sentences in Experiment 1. Namely, as the nth word was fixated, (1) the words located to the right were all masked by a series of “※””, (2) the words located to the right of the n+1th word were all masked by a series of “※””, (3) only the n+1th word was masked by two masks of “※””, or (4) no words were masked as a baseline comparison (the control). Among the treatments, the first and third provided the cues of word n segmentation, and the second treatment provided information of word n+1 segmentation. Moreover, the first treatment was deprived of the preview benefit effects from word n+1 and n+2, the second treatment was deprived of the preview benefit effects from word n+2, and the third treatment was deprived of the preview benefit effects from n+1. An eye-movement apparatus was used, and eye-motion indices were measured. The effects on the total reading time, mean fixation duration, mean gaze duration, probability of refixation and word skipping were significant (p<0.05). The differences among the second and third treatments and the control for these indices showed significant preview effects on word n+1 and n+2. The mean gaze duration in the second treatment was observed to be less than the control, although the total reading time increased. However, we cannot exclude the effect of the mask paradigm itself, which influenced the patterns of eye movements and affected the results of Experiment 1. Therefore, a second experiment was conducted. Experiment 2 adopted similar treatments as Experiment 1, but the two adjacent characters that did not belong to a word were masked together. The manipulations did not provide cues to facilitate word segmentation. Consequently, all the masked treatments in Experiment 2 influenced the total reading and fixation times more significantly than those in Experiment 1. The mean gaze duration in the second treatment was greater than the control, which was an opposite result to that of Experiment 1. The patterns of eye movements in Experiment 2 differed from those in Experiment 1. Thus, the results obtained in Experiment 1 were not because of the influence of the mask paradigm. Because the second treatment in Experiment 1 emphasized the boundary of word n+1, the differences in the eye movement patterns between this condition and the control revealed that the beneficial effects from the text in word n+1 were based on the word unit. Thus, the data from the current experiment better fit with the theoretical assumptions of parallel processing models in reading.

Key words: Chinese reading, preview benefits, eye movement, word segmentations