ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (6): 607-616.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.00607

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The two-steps mental simulation process of Chinese definite unbounded negative sentences

CUI Ruxia1,2; GAO Zhihua1,3; TANG Yilin1; HE Haofan1; LU Zhongyi1   

  1. (1 College of Education, Hebei Normal University, Shijiazhuang, 050091, China) (2 NO.1 Middle School, Nanpi County, Hebei Province, Nanpi, 061500, China) (3 College of Psychology,North China University of Science and Technology, Tangshan, 063000, China)
  • Received:2015-03-11 Published:2016-06-25 Online:2016-06-25
  • Contact: LU Zhongyi, E-mail:


In the previous studies, the researchers argued whether simulation was completed in one step or two steps on processes of negative sentences comprehension, due to different materials in respective studies. In the present study, we classified the negation into two categories: the bounded negation (eg. not live- not die) and the unbounded negation (eg. not a tiger). And the classified unbounded negation were further classified into the definite (eg. not wide- not narrow) and indefinite negations respectively. Some researchers have demonstrated that the mental simulation of bounded negative sentences could be completed in one step, so we assume that definite unbounded negative sentences will be different, and conform to Two-Steps Simulation Hypothesis. In this study, Chinese definite unbounded negative sentences (eg. “The door was not wide”) were taken as research materials, sentence-picture match paradigm as experimental paradigm, 2 (sentence type: the Chinese definite unbounded affirmative sentence vs. the Chinese definite unbounded negative sentence) × 2 (match type between the state depicted by pictures and the state described by sentence: match vs. mismatch) within-subject design as experimental design, response time and accuracy in picture judgments as outcome variables, to explore the mental simulation process during the early (250 ms), middle (750 ms) and late (1500 ms) stages. The result in Experiment 1 showed that responses to mismatch pictures were shorter than to match pictures in negative sentences reading condition at the early comprehension stage (250 ms), and the tendency in affirmative sentence was reversed. In Experiment 2, the response tendency was different from Experiment 1, that responses to match pictures were more rapid than to mismatch pictures in negative sentences reading condition at middle comprehension stage (750 ms), and there was no significant difference between different match types in affirmative sentences. In Experiment 3, there was no significant difference between different match types in negative sentences reading, and response time to match picture was shorter than to mismatch pictures in affirmative sentences. The results showed that there were two steps to complete the mental simulation of the definite unbounded negative sentence. At the first step, the negated state was simulated, and then the simulation of actual state of the definite unbounded negative sentence was completed in the second step. But such processes are relatively rapid, in another words, they are completed at the middle stage of comprehension. This indicated that the category of negative sentence affects the process of mental simulation.

Key words: negation, definite unbounded negative sentence, two-step simulation hypothesis