ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

›› 2009, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (09): 793-801.

Affordance Information Retrieval in Text Comprehension

LU Zhong-Yi;CHEN Jian-Qiao;SHAO Yi-Jie

1. LU Zhong-Yi;CHEN Jian-Qiao;SHAO Yi-Jie
• Received:2008-05-10 Revised:1900-01-01 Published:2009-09-30 Online:2009-09-30
• Contact: LU Zhong-Yi

Abstract: As it has developed over recent years, psycholinguistics has become more and more influenced by the em-bodied philosophy, and the proposition symbol system, which was formerly widely accepted, is not now be-lieved to the same extent that it was in the past. Recently, several theorists have proposed a new concept called the perceptual symbol system, which considers cognition an embodied progress, and posits that the way we read and think is very similar to the way we perceive. In 2004, Zwaan proposed a theoretical framework based on the perceptual symbol system called the Immersed Experiencer Frame (IEF). The IEF suggests that the process of text comprehension consists of three processes called activation, construal and integration, and this progression is a process of perceiving the scene that the text describes. This framework is supported by considerable ex-perimental data, and has much to recommend it. However, it has not solved a vital problem; namely, how in the process of construal, the elements are integrated into a complete event. In perceiving the environment, affor-dance is very important. Affordance is the perceived possibility that the environment allows a behavior of a person or an animal to be realized. Though a key concept in perceptual psychology and ecologic psychology, it is seldom mentioned in the field of text comprehension. We hypothesize here that affordance is also an important concept in text comprehension in that it allows us to understand the organization of other information in the construal process.
We have designed three experiments to investigate the importance of affordance in text comprehension:
The first experiment was a 4-level one factor design centered around recognition of words involving dif-ferent degrees of affordance. We found that subjects access affordance from texts automatically and that affor-dance can organize other information, especially in the construal progress.
The second experiment was a two factor design which examined how much time it takes to access affor-dance and attributes. The results showed that subjects can access affordance directly, without the need to access attributes first.
The third experiment was a 2-level one factor design that assessed the time span required to access affor-dance both under conditions where the attributes were present and those where they were not present. The results showed that subjects access affordance by making inferences from attributes when they are present, and accom-plish this faster than accessing accordance directly.
All the results imply that affordance is very important in text comprehension: it organizes information, and organizes elements in the construal progress. Affordance is accessible either directly in text comprehension or indirectly through inferences based on attributes presented in the text. Which method is used depends on wheth-er attributes are present or not.