ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (1): 11-18.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2015.00011

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Predictors of Action Picture Naming in Mandarin Chinese

CHEN Yongxiang1,2; ZHU Liqi2   

  1. (1 School of Education Science, Shanxi University, Taiyuan 030006, China) (2 Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China)
  • Received:2013-12-30 Published:2015-01-26 Online:2015-01-26
  • Contact: ZHU Liqi, E-mail:


Nouns and verbs are two main categories of content words, and they are learned early by children. It remains in hot debate regarding whether Mandarin Chinese is a verb-friendly language for children. However, few studies examined verb processing in Mandarin, and there were no standard experimental materials that are available for researchers. Therefore, it is unclear what factors may influence action picture naming in Mandarin and whether it is similar to the rules in object picture naming. Thirty-six adults participated in picture naming and 112 adults participated in rating tasks. All participants were native speakers of Mandarin Chinese. The materials were 275 pictures from the IPNP website (see (Szekely et al., 2004), of which 10 pictures were deleted because Chinese adults could not name them correctly. Chinese verb names, naming latency, name agreement, H value, familiarity, visual complexity, image agreement, and oral age of acquisition (AoA) were obtained for the 265 action pictures. Results from stepwise regression analysis showed that H value familiarity and visual complexity explained 72.4% of the variances in picture naming latency, whereas other variables such as word frequency and AoA were excluded from the final model. Moreover, the pictures were categorized into five levels of difficulty based on the naming latency. A comparison of the present study to previous studies that examined object picture naming in Mandarin showed that action picture naming (with a mean latency of 1617 ms) was more difficult than object picture naming (with a mean latency of 1324 ms or 1044 ms, Liu, Hao, Li, & Shu, 2011; Zhang & Yang, 2003). In addition, name agreement of action pictures was lower than that of object pictures, and visual complexity of action pictures was higher than that of object pictures. These results indicated that action picture naming was difficult for adult participants. One possibility is that it might be particularly difficult for Mandarin speakers to extract meaning out of the static action pictures and verbalize them. More investigations are needed to explore the mechanisms of verb processing in Mandarin Chinese, and the measures obtained from the present study can provide valuable tools for future researchers to examine verb processing in Mandarin.

Key words: Chinese verbs, picture naming, familiarity, name agreement, H value