ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B


    15 July 2018, Volume 50 Issue 7 Previous Issue    Next Issue

    Reports of Empirical Studies
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    Reports of Empirical Studies
    Influence of aesthetics on unconscious processing of western paintings
    Junchen SHANG, Zhihui LIU, Wenfeng CHEN, Xiaolan FU
    2018, 50 (7):  693-702.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00693
    Abstract ( 3505 )   PDF (618KB) ( 200 )  

    People prefer beautiful visual artworks. Aesthetic experiences to beautiful and ugly images are different. Studies on neuroaesthetics showed different neural responses to beautiful stimuli compared to ugly stimuli. The first stage of aesthetic experience of a visual artwork is visual perception of the stimulus. Most research about aesthetic processing focused on stimuli presented consciously. Little is known about whether aesthetic processing can occur unconsciously. Previous research suggested that both beautiful paintings and attractive faces can elicit activation of the reward circuitry in our brain. Attractive faces break through continuous flash suppression more quickly than unattractive faces. Thus, it is possible that unconscious processing of beautiful paintings is different from that of less beautiful paintings. In two experiments, the present study adopted continuous flash suppression paradigm to investigate whether aesthetic ratings of western paintings influenced the time for stimuli to break suppression. We also compared the suppression effect of achromatic (Experiment 1) and chromatic (Experiment 2) noise pictures.

    In Experiment 1, 20 participants (8 females, 12 males) took part in the experiment. The independent variable was aesthetic rating of western paintings (high, average, and low). The achromatic suppression noises were presented to the participants’ dominant eye and continued to flash at 10 Hz. A western painting was presented to the nondominant eye, at either above or below the central cross, with contrast increasing from 0 to 100% within 1s and remaining constant until response. Participants were instructed to respond as accurately and quickly as possible when any part of the painting was detected, and report whether the target was presented above or below the cross. 18 participants (9 females, 9 males) took part in Experiment 2. Experiment 2 was identical with Experiment 1 except that chromatic suppression noises were presented to the dominant eye.

    The results of Experiment 1 showed that paintings with low aesthetic ratings took significantly longer time to break into awareness, comparing to paintings with average and high aesthetic ratings. The reaction times were not significantly different between paintings with average and high aesthetic ratings. In Experiment 2, however, the times for breaking suppression were not significantly different among the three categories of paintings. Moreover, the effect of suppression was different between different noises, such that reaction times were longer under suppression by chromatic noises (Experiment 2) than achromatic noises (Experiment 1).

    These results suggested different unconscious processing of western paintings with different aesthetic ratings. Similar to attractive faces, paintings with high and average aesthetic ratings were easier to be detected under suppression. Our findings provided evidence that aesthetic processing can occur unconsciously under suppression by achromatic noises. The present study also suggested that the suppression effect of achromatic noises is different from that of chromatic noises. Chromatic noises may interfere with the color information of paintings and disrupt the aesthetic perception of paintings.

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    Landmark attraction effect and landmark repulsion effect on representational momentum in airplane movement scene
    Bihua YAN, Xiaomin LIU, Haozhe LIU
    2018, 50 (7):  703-714.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00703
    Abstract ( 1295 )   PDF (639KB) ( 92 )  

    The term representational momentum has been used to describe a forward displacement of the final position of a moving target and also as an explanatory mechanism for that forward displacement. Landmark attraction effect refers to the remembered orientation of a target shifted towards the orientation of a surrounding context object. Previous studies on moving targets and landmarks have been limited to the effects of physical properties, such as the size of the stimulus, or the speed of movement, on the displacement of another object. The present study focused on the effects of the situational significance, the relative relationship between the moving target and the relevant landmark, the movement directions of the target and the presentation time of the landmarks on the judgment of the moving target position.

    The inducing movement paradigm was adopted to investigate the representational momentum effect in the flight scene, in which the airplane target and the landmarks were designed as simple line-drawing images. The stationary airstrip and the mountain were classified as safe landmarks and dangerous landmarks, respectively, forming a causal relationship with the aircraft target, which together constituted a specific aircraft movement scene. Four experiments were designed to compare the effects of different landmarks. Experiments 1a and 1b focused on the relationship between the aircraft and the safe landmark or dangerous landmark and the movement direction of the aircraft on the representational momentum, while the landmark remained visible in the induction duration. Experiments 2a and 2b addressed the same variable relationship as in Experiments 1a and 1b except that the landmark was shown during the retention interval.

    The findings of the four experiments were as follows. First, significant forward distortions were observed under all conditions with the exception of leftward- toward the dangerous landmark motion, indicating that the representational momentum effect was universal in the flight scene. Second, forward displacement was influenced by target approaches and was larger when targets moved toward the safe landmark than when moving away from the same landmark. In addition, it was also larger when targets moved away from the dangerous landmark than when they moved toward it. The representational momentum of the approaching safe landmark was larger than that of the dangerous landmark, and the momentum of moving away from the safe landmark was smaller than that of the dangerous landmark. In this way, the safe landmark showed landmark an attraction effect, and the dangerous landmark showed a repulsion effect. Third, the direction of movement of the aircraft had no significant effect on the representational momentum, and the representational momentum increased when the safe landmark or the dangerous landmark was shown during the retention interval, demonstrating the effect of the scenario on the directional effect and attention effect of the momentum.

    In conclusion, the results of this study suggested that the landmark effect of the representational momentum was influenced by the relevant features of the landmark, which was measured by the causality and the situational significance between the target and the landmark. The memory of the location of the moving object will shift along the direction of the object’s movement, indicating that the momentum effect is difficult to eliminate. However, when there are other related objects (landmarks) in the scene, the nature and the importance of the object has an impact on people’s judgment.

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    Effect of parafoveal visual attention enhancement in deaf reading: Evidence from disappearing text
    Lu LIU, Guoli YAN
    2018, 50 (7):  715-726.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00715
    Abstract ( 1567 )   PDF (915KB) ( 115 )  

    Visual information is essential to deaf people given their early auditory deprivation. Some researchers have proposed a perspective in which the distribution of deaf visual attention resource shifted from the central to the extrafoveal visual field. This study explores how this unique visual processing ability may influence reading in deaf people and proposes ‘the effect of parafoveal visual attention enhancement in deaf reading.’ We hypothesise that visual attention resources are reorganised due to the absence of auditory input for deaf people. This reorganisation increased distribution toward the extrafoveal field, but decreased it in the foveal field, resulting in poor reading efficiency.

    A total of 29 severely to profoundly deaf students (DS) from a deaf school in Tianjin participated in the present study. Their hearing loss is ≥ 90 dB in the better ear. Participants are either born deaf or became deaf before three years old, and they use Chinese Sign Language (CSL) as their main communication mode. None of them received a cochlear implant. The age control group (AC) has 29 hearing middle school students, which indicated no significant difference in chronological age with DS. In addition, 29 hearing primary students comprised the reading-level control group (RC). The DS and RC were examined through a series of reading tests, including orthographic judgment task, reading fluency and reading comprehension, to match their reading levels. All participants read Chinese sentences for comprehension as their eye movements were tracked. A total of 48 pairs of target words (48 high frequency and 48 low frequency words) were embedded in two different sentence frames. All sentences consisted of seven or eight double-character words. These sentences were either presented normally or in a disappearing text paradigm that, as each word (n) was fixated, the word (n) or the next word (n + 1) remained visible only for a short period (40 ms) before disappearing. The paradigm was utilised to manipulate the display duration for the parafoveal word n + 1 (Experiment 1) or the foveal word N (Experiment 2) respectively, to compare the efficiency (speed) of encoding visual text information in sentence reading.

    In Experiment 1, when word n + 1 was presented briefly (40 ms), the overall sentence reading times were prolonged only for reading-level control group, but no difference was observed between deaf students and age control group. The effect of word frequency on target words was normal for all three groups. By contrast, in Experiment 2, during which word n was presented briefly (40 ms), the overall sentence reading times were prolonged only for deaf students. For gaze duration, the effect of word frequency for target words disappeared for deaf students. Therefore, deaf students showed higher efficiency of encoding parafoveal text information than their reading-level controls in Experiment 1 and were equal to their age controls. However, in Experiment 2, deaf students showed lower efficiency in encoding foveal text information than those in the hearing controls.

    In conclusion, the present study confirmed that deaf readers have enhanced parafoveal processing of linguistic information, but their foveal processing was hampered as a consequence. Thus, parafoveal visual attention was enhanced in deaf reading, which may be one of reasons for reading difficulty. Further research is necessary to explore this issue.

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    The causal role of right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in visual working memory
    Sisi WANG, Yixuan KU
    2018, 50 (7):  727-738.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00727
    Abstract ( 3078 )   PDF (936KB) ( 268 )  

    The right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) plays an important role in working memory. Previous neuroimaging and neurophysiological studies have found sustained and elevated DLPFC activity during working memory delay period. Meanwhile, the right DLPFC has been suggested to be more dominant in visuospatial than verbal working memory. While the causal evidence for the relationship between the right DLPFC and visual working memory is still rare.

    Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and EEG were combined to investigate the causal relationship between the right DLPFC and processes of visual working memory. Forty participants performed a color change detection task with memory load of 4 items (load-4) or 6 items (load-6) while their electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded. Before they performed the tasks, either 15 min of 1.5 mA transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) or 30 s of 1.5 mA sham stimulation (SHAM) was applied over the right DLPFC. The participants were divided into two groups according to their working memory capacity increment from load-4 to load-6 in the sham condition, the group who gained more increment (the high potential group) under the sham condition also benefit more from the anodal tDCS over the right DLPFC, while the other group (the low potential group) did not show such effects.

    To further explore the neural mechanisms, N2pc and SPCN were compared between different conditions. N2pc did not show any stimulating effects or load effects for both low and high potential groups. In contrast, although SPCN did not show significant main effects of load or stimulation, or their interaction for the low potential group, SPCN did show main effects of stimulation for high potential group. The amplitude of SPCN after tDCS over the right DLPFC was significantly larger than that after the sham stimulation under load-4 condition, which coincided with the behavioral findings, and further suggested the role of the right DLPFC in representing the memory information during retrieval.

    In sum, anodal tDCS over the right DLPFC promoted visual working memory capacity of those who had more cognitive potential from easier task (load-4) to harder task (load-6). The present study confirmed the causal role of the right DLPFC in representing the visual working memory information during the retrieval period.

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    Effects of prediction error on post-retrieval extinction of fear to compound stimuli
    Wei CHEN, Junjiao LI, Jingwen CAOYANG, Yong YANG, Yanjian Hu, Xifu ZHENG
    2018, 50 (7):  739-749.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00739
    Abstract ( 2311 )   PDF (759KB) ( 126 )  

    Memories with a strong fear emotional connotation play a pathogenic role in a variety of emotional disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorder and phobia. So how to fundamentally eliminate the acquired fear memory and prevent relapse has been the difficulties of clinical treatment. The retrieval extinction paradigm, which is based on the memory reconsolidation theory, was demonstrated an effective and promising way in eliminating undesired memories. The key of this paradigm is how to retrieve fear memory to undergo reconsolidation, which makes the memory fragile and labile. Research has shown that when a mismatch between what is expected based on previous experiences and the actual state of events at retrieval, the prediction error will occur so that the memory will undergo reconsolidation. In the present study, we change CS-US (conditioned stimulus-unconditioned stimulus) matching rules during the retrieval to manipulate the conditions of PE to explore whether the amount of PE is a crucial factor to open reconsolidation window.

    In the current study, two tones and four colored figures were used, one of the tones and two of the figures (CS+) were paired with a mild shock to the wrist (US) on 50% of the trails, while the other figures and tones were never paired with shock (CS-). the skin conductance response (SCR) was the measure of fear. Four groups of participants were fear conditioned on day1 using a 50% reinforcement schedule, in such a way that they could expect the CS to be followed by shock every other trial. During memory reactivation on day2, participants received one unreinforced CS+ (No PE group), two unreinforced CS+ (Negative PE group), two reinforced CS+ (Positive PE group) and four unreinforced CS+ (Multiple PE group) respectively, following extinction training. On day3, participants took part in tests of spontaneous recovery and reinstatement of fear through re-extinction and regaining.

    The results showed that the SCR was not significantly different among the four groups in the fear conditioning of the first day and extinction of the second day. However, on the third day, No PE group and Multiple PE group showed increased SCR in spontaneous fear recovery and reinstatement test, whereas Negative PE group and Positive PE group did not show any significant increased SCR in spontaneous fear recovery or reinstatement.

    Our study provided further evidence that the behavioral interference during reconsolidation (retrieval- extinction) can effectively eliminate fear and block fear relapse under certain circumstances. According to the results, we demonstrate that the prediction error is a necessary condition of initiating reconsolidation and a lack of prediction error during retrieval will leave the memory trace in an inactive state. Additionally, the amount of PE is a crucial factor and too much prediction error will cause failure. It is inferred that a limited degree of mismatch between the memory and events at the time of retrieval will induce memory destabilization.

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    The influence of maternal encouragement of autonomy on toddler’s exploration: Moderating effect of attachment
    Qun JIANG,Shan LU,Qian ZHANG,Zhengyan WANG
    2018, 50 (7):  750-760.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00750
    Abstract ( 4068 )  

    Exploratory behavior, derived from one’s motor development, is an important way for infants to obtain information from external environment. Exploration is generally associated with adaptive developmental outcomes, especially cognitive abilities. Although there have been a great number of studies on exploration, most of which focused on the informational value afforded by novel objects, individual differences and different stages of exploration. The environmental factors, more specifically, the maternal behaviors have been obtained little attention. However, two distinctive theories posit mother’s behavior plays a significant role in infant’s exploration, attachment theory and self-determination theory. According to attachment theory, the attachment system and the exploratory system are two distinct yet inseparably linked behavioral systems, and the attachment system contributes to the quality of infant exploration by providing the infant a secure base from which to explore. Self-determination theory argues that infant’s exploration is driven by his/her intrinsic motivation. Individuals will be most intrinsically motivated when the environment supports their need for autonomy, rather than controlling their behavior. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to examine influence of maternal encouragement of autonomy on 14-month toddler’s exploration and the moderating role of attachment in the relationship between maternal encouragement of autonomy and toddler’s exploratory behavior.

    Sixty-six toddlers (M = 14.77 months, SD = 0.99) and their mothers participated in the study. Toddlers’ attachment status was assessed by the Strange Situation procedure in the laboratory. A semi-structure family observation was conducted in the next 2 to 4 weeks. Each toddler was shown three novel objects placing on the floor and requested to explore them for 6 minutes. The toddler’s exploration as well as maternal encouragement of autonomy was videotaped and coded.

    Results were as follows: after controlling for children’s temperament and family socioeconomic status, (1) maternal encouragement of autonomy positively predicted toddler’s total frequencies of exploratory operations, types of exploratory operations and exploratory persistence; (2) mother-infant attachment negatively predicted toddler’s total frequencies of exploratory operations, and positively predicted toddler’s average duration of exploratory operations; (3) the influence of maternal encouragement of autonomy on toddler’s exploratory competence was significantly moderated by the pattern of attachment. Specifically, the prediction of maternal encouragement of autonomy on toddler’s exploratory competence was significant when the child established a security attachment, while for the insecure infants, this prediction was nonsignificant.

    These results indicated that maternal encouragement of autonomy could significantly promote toddler’s exploratory behavior. Toddler’s secure attachment played a significant role in the relationship between maternal encouragement and toddler’s exploration. It highlighted the importance of establishing a secure attachment relationship, which was directly linked to the effectiveness of mother’s positive parenting behaviors.

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    Using game log-file to predict students' reasoning ability and mathematical achievement: An application of machine learning
    Xin SUN,Jian LI,Zhiyu FU
    2018, 50 (7):  761-770.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00761
    Abstract ( 2586 )  

    With the development of the progress of information technology, the deficiency of traditional psychological testing is becoming more obvious, such as test anxiety and test exposure. Some researchers have begun to test individuals using game-based assessment, which has many advantages, such as increasing the motivation and input level of the participants, and providing the possibility for the implementation of log-file technology. However, the current data analysis and scoring logic ignore substantial information of process, and thus cannot accurately assess individual characteristics and abilities. The advantages of machine learning in data analysis provide a new direction. The machine learning algorithm can analyze the log-file data by building a complex model.

    The present study attempted to use game-based assessment combining game log-file and machine learning techniques to predict participants’ ability: reasoning ability and mathematical achievement. Participants were 360 first and second grade students from a middle school in Beijing; predictive variables were a series of features extracted from the game log-file, outcome variables were dichotomous variables calculated from Raven test and mathematics achievement, which took 25th and 75th percentile as the cutoff line. In the model training, the random forest algorithm was selected, 70% samples were randomly selected for cross validation and hyper parametric search, and then the prediction was carried out on the other 30% of samples.

    Results showed that the logarithm of the ratio of the first step time to the average execution time was the highest features of average importance ratio, and the number of steps that are different from the optimal solution, thinking time ratio, execution between fluctuation, proportion of repeat steps all contributed to the mathematical achievement prediction model; reasoning ability prediction model was similar. With these important features, it could be found that the reasoning ability prediction model had 76.11% precision, 65.72% accuracy, 63.10% recall and 65.01% F1 scores; the mathematical achievement prediction model had 83.07% precision, 73.70% accuracy, 73.33% recall and 75.57% F1 score.

    The finding of the present study showed that the random forest model had acceptable predictive effect when predicting reasoning ability and mathematics achievement classification based on the game log-file, with 75% precision of reasoning and 80% precision of math. In conclusion, the research provides a new method to predict the cognitive ability and academic achievement of the students; the game log-file combined with machine learning can establish an effective discrimination model. This result can provide some reference and direction for the development of educational psychological assessment.

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    Couples when young and companions when aged: The relationship between marital attachment and loneliness of left behind elderly
    Qili XIE,Chongjing LI,Xiaoshan QUAN,Guangrong JIANG,
    2018, 50 (7):  771-781.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00771
    Abstract ( 3512 )  

    In rural areas of China, more than 50 million elderly people are left-behind, and they have a strong sense of loneliness. The relationship between husband and wife plays an important role in alleviating the loneliness feeling of the elderly, therefore, it is crucial to understand the association between marital attachment and loneliness of left-behind elderly. Previous study showed that Chinese elderly’s marital attachment was composed in three dimensions: security, avoidance and anxiety. However, the three-dimensional structure of Chinese elderly’s marital attachment has not been tested in the rural elderly population. In addition, the association between Chinese elderly’s loneliness and their three-dimensional marital attachment is also not clear. Therefore, further studies are needed. The current study, firstly, tested the three-dimensional structure of the Chinese elderly’s marital attachment, and secondly, investigated the relationship between marital attachment and loneliness of left-behind elderly.

    The Older Adults’ Marital Attachment Scale, Scale of Perceived Social Support, Core Self-Evaluations Scale, and ULS-8 Loneliness Scale were administered to 510 left-behind elderly from rural areas in China. All cases were randomly assigned to two subsets: one set was for exploratory factor analysis, and the other was for confirmatory factor analysis. The SPSS 20.0 and AMOS 20.0 were used for this analysis, and the structural equation model and the bootstrapping analysis were employed to examine the hypothesized mediating model.

    The key findings were as follows: (1) the 14-item revised OAMAS showed a three-dimensional construct of attachment, namely security, avoidance, and anxiety; (2) the marital attachment of left-behind elderly could be clustered into three types, including secure marital attachment (37.84%), refusal marital attachment (31.18%), and anxious marital attachment (30.98%). The proportion of secure marital attachment in left-behind elderly was significantly lower than that in community elderly (Z = -5.63, p < 0.001), and the proportion of refusal marital attachment in left-behind elderly was significantly higher than that in community elderly (Z = 7.01, p < 0.001) ; (3) perceived social support fully mediated the association among security attachment, avoidance attachment and loneliness. Perceived social support and core self-evaluations had multiple mediation effects on the association among security attachment, avoidance attachment and loneliness. While the association between anxiety attachment and loneliness was partially mediated by core self-evaluations.

    The results indicated that three-dimensional structure of Older Adults’ Marital Attachment Scale was an effective measurement of marital attachment in left-behind elderly group. There was a close relationship between the marital attachment and loneliness of the left-behind elderly, safe marital attachment could effectively relieve the loneliness of left-behind elderly. The results may help to expand the study range of elderly’s marital attachment, and provide a reference for reducing the loneliness of the left-behind elderly. implications and limitations are discussed.

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    Touch or not touch? Prior touch facilitates consumers’ adoption of new products
    Wumei LIU, Liang LEI, Zhiyuan LI, Yun SU, Xiaozhi HUANG
    2018, 50 (7):  782-792.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00782
    Abstract ( 2508 )  

    Previous touch literature cannot answer whether prior touching of a new product (i.e. a new watch) can facilitate consumers’ evaluation of another extremely incongruent product (i.e. a new camera). The present research posits that asking consumers to previously touch (versus not touch) an extremely new product (i.e. a new computer mouse) can offer them an opportunity to transfer their learning of the touched new product to understanding another target product’s extremely incongruity, which consequently leads to incongruity resolution and increased evaluation of the target product (H1-H2). This research further posits that the prior-touch strategy will be ineffective when the prior-touched product is conceptually different from the target product (i.e., it is common) (H3), as conceptual disparity inhibits the occurrence of near transfer of learning. We conduct four lab experiments to test these hypotheses.

    Experiment 1 examined H1-H2 and further tested other alternative explanations including arousal and moods which might affect consumers’ new product evaluation. College students completed a randomly-assigned 3 (form incongruity: congruent vs. moderate vs. extreme) × 2 (prior-touch: touch vs. no touch) two-way between-subjects design, with product evaluation as the DV. This experiment found that prior-touch (versus no such touch) only increased evaluations of the extremely incongruent camera, supporting H1. A bootstrap analysis showed that incongruity resolution rather than arousal or positive mood mediated the effect demonstrated in H1, supporting H2. Experiment 2 examined consumers’ real choices, finding that compared to no prior touching, prior touching an extremely incongruent mug can increase consumers’ subsequent choices of an extremely incongruent computer mouse. Experiment 3 adopted a 2 (prior-evaluated product’s form incongruity: extremely common vs. extremely new) × 2 (prior-touch) × 2 (target product’s form incongruity: congruent vs. extremely incongruent) three-way between-subjects design, using similar procedures of previous experiments. As expected, prior touching an extremely common computer mouse did not change participants’ ability in resolving the extreme incongruity of and did not increase evaluations of the subsequent target watch, supporting H3. In Experiment 4, participants were randomly assigned to one of four type of senses (both touch and see vs. just touch with eyes closed vs. just see without touch vs. no-see, no-touch) conditions to evaluate the target soft drink. This experiment found that it was prior-touching the mouse rather than prior-seeing the mouse that drove the effect observed across Experiments 1-3.

    Theoretically, this research observes for the first time the carry-over effect of product touch, thus extending existing research on product touch. This research further enriches existing new product research, showing that prior touching an extremely incongruent product can enhance consumers’ evaluations of the subsequent extremely incongruent target product. Managerially, this research has rich implications to new product’s launch and promotion.

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    Influence of soft and hard tactical experiences on gender role cognition
    Zhongyi YI,Wendeng YANG,Haosheng YE
    2018, 50 (7):  793-802.  doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00793
    Abstract ( 3414 )  

    Previous studies mainly considered gender roles from the perspective of bio-determinism or social constructivism. The two sides stand at the ends of “nature” and “culture,” respectively. The former focuses on physiology, and the latter highlights the role of parenting, social conditions, and social relationships and disregards the link between nature and culture. The results of previous research have revealed limitations in the cognition of individuals regarding the formation and acquisition of gender classification and gender roles. Embodied cognition emphasizes the dependence of cognition on the body, which is embedded in the environment, and the influences of the body and environment are considered. The present study explored the gender role from the perspective of embodied cognition to compensate for the deficiencies of previous studies.

    Previous studies mainly considered gender roles from the perspective of bio-determinism or social constructivism. The two sides stand at the ends of “nature” and “culture,” respectively. The former focuses on physiology, and the latter highlights the role of parenting, social conditions, and social relationships and disregards the link between nature and culture. The results of previous research have revealed limitations in the cognition of individuals regarding the formation and acquisition of gender classification and gender roles. Embodied cognition emphasizes the dependence of cognition on the body, which is embedded in the environment, and the influences of the body and environment are considered. The present study explored the gender role from the perspective of embodied cognition to compensate for the deficiencies of previous studies.

    Three experiments were conducted with E-prime. In Experiment 1, the effect of soft and hard tactile experiences on gender classification in the Chinese culture was investigated through a behavioral experiment method. In the beginning of the experiment, subjects were asked for a full long-term contact with a specific ball (soft or hard). Afterward, the participants were asked to determine the gender of ambiguous face images with their right hands while squeezing a specific ball with their left hands. We found that the subjects who squeezed the soft ball were likely to judge the ambiguous faces as female, and the subjects who squeezed the hard ball were likely to judge the ambiguous faces as male. By assessing these automatic associations of gender roles with hard or soft tactile experience, we designed an Implicit Association Test in Experiment 2 to explore the implicit effect of the “soft woman and hard man” bias. Our results revealed significant implicit deviations in the concept of gender roles in the Chinese culture. A significant difference was observed between compatible tasks in which feminine role expressions were associated with “soft” while masculine role expressions were associated with “hard” and incompatible tasks in which feminine role expressions were associated with “hard” while masculine role expressions were associated with “soft.” In Experiment 3, we explored the influence of the conceptual processing of gender role expressions on soft and hard perceptions of objects through concept priming and perceptual judgment tasks. The participants were asked to memorize the male role expressions or female characterization expressions and evaluate the degree of hardness and softness from 1 (soft) to 10 (hard). The expressions were then recalled. The results showed that compared with the subjects in the group of masculine role expressions, those in the group of feminine role expressions judged a sofa as softer.

    We conclude that gender classification and gender impression representation can be characterized by soft and hard metaphors. The concept of “soft woman and hard man” in the gender role is unconscious. Our conceptualization and categorization of gender roles depend on the metaphorical expansion of the basic concepts of “soft” and “hard.” In addition, the processing of the concepts of gender characterization among the study subjects activated the modal information of the proprioception (soft and hard) channel in the brain memory and caused the simulation of the physical state. It then affected the perception of the degree of softness and hardness of the sofa, thereby proving the existence of an embodied effect in cognitive judgment.

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