ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2013, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (1): 35-46.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.00035

Previous Articles     Next Articles

An Eye Movement Study of Associate Competition in Chinese Idiom Riddles Solving

HUANG Furong;ZHOU Zhijin;ZHAO Qingbai   

  1. (1 Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior (CCNU), Ministry of Education; Key Laboratory of Human Development and Mental Health of Hubei Province; School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China) (2 Beijing Key Lab of Learning and Cognition, Department of Psychology; Capital Normal University, Beijing 100048, China)
  • Received:2012-01-30 Published:2013-01-25 Online:2013-01-25
  • Contact: ZHOU Zhijin

Abstract: Most Chinese idiom riddles require insightful thoughts to solve. Novel and simple associations can be formed during the process of idiom resolutions. Insightful thought occurs only when novel associations overwhelm simple ones. However, it is unclear how this happens in the mind. According to the Representational Change Theory, the competition happens in a sudden way. But according to the Process Monitoring Theory, it is completed gradually. By using eye-tracking technology, we intended to investigate the time course of insightful problem resolution, using Chinese idiom riddles as experimental materials. In this study, an option selection task was adopted. Chinese idiom riddles were presented, together with four types of options serving as the spare answers to the riddle (novel, ordinary, plausible and absolutely wrong). Participants were asked to make a choice among options. At the same time, the fixation times of the participants spent on different options were recorded. In Experiment 1, the participants were randomly divided into an appropriate group and a novel group. In different groups, the participants were asked to make a choice between an appropriate answer and a novel and appropriate one. In Experiment 2, a 2 (general solution rule: effective vs. ineffective) × 2 (special solution rule: effective vs. ineffective) experimental designs was adopted. Besides, a general solving rule and a specific solving rule were presented at the same time. Results showed that there was a positive correlation between the fixation times of the participants spent on novel or ordinary answers and the percentage of the corresponding selections. The participants were found to have formed novel associations while fixating on novel answers, and simple associations while fixating on ordinary answers. The result further revealed that: (1) Novel associations and simple associations were formed simultaneously and competed to each other for a while before the idiom riddles were solved. (2) The demand of choosing a novel and appropriate answer induced people to make more efforts on novel association formation, and to select more novel answers. However, the task demand did not accelerate the time course of novel association formation, or change the competitive situation. (3) The effective solution rules, which promoted the novel answer selections, not only accelerated the time course of novel association formation, but also inhibited simple association formation, and eliminated the competition between them.

Key words: Chinese idiom riddle, novel association, simple association, eye movement