ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

›› 2009, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (05): 397-405.

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The Role of Clues in Chinese Idiom Riddle Solving

Zhu Xin-Cheng;Li Rui-Ju;Zhou Zhi-Jin   

  1. Institute of Educational Research, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:1900-01-01 Revised:1900-01-01 Published:2009-05-30 Online:2009-05-30
  • Contact: Zhou Zhi-Jin

Abstract: Chinese riddle solving is one of the insight problems in which Chinese idioms frequently turn out to be the answers. The goal of this study was to investigate the role of clues used by problem solvers when given such riddles. Three experiments were conducted and idiom riddles were used as experimental materials. In all experiments, a 2 (semantic clue vs. rule clue)×2 (validity vs. invalidity) experimental design was adopted. In Experiment 1, all clues were presented above visual threshold. Participants were asked to figure out answers themselves according to each riddle and its clue. In Experiment 2, except that the clues were presented below visual threshold, all else was the same as that in Experiment 1. In both of these two experiments, the participants were first required to judge the emotionality of 160 idioms within 5 minutes, which include the answers of the riddles used in the experiments. In Experiment 3, participants were asked to make a choice among six options. There were 206 first-year and second-year college students participated in these experiments. The results were as follow: (1) The valid rule clues, which were presented either above threshold or below threshold, facilitated the process of Chinese idiom riddle solving. (2) The response accuracy was increased when the semantic clues were valid. Moreover, the clues presented above the threshold played a bigger role than those presented below the threshold. (3) An interference was found only when the invalid clues were presented above the threshold. Based on the theories and hypotheses about insight problem solving, we put forward a model to explain the process of Chinese riddles solving, which include three phases.

Key words: idiom riddle, guessing rule, semantic clue, unconsciousness