ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2017, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (3): 285-295.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.00285

• 论文 •    下一篇


吴诗玉; 张宇英; 胡青青   

  1. (上海交通大学外国语学院, 上海 200240)
  • 收稿日期:2016-02-16 出版日期:2017-03-25 发布日期:2017-03-25
  • 通讯作者: 吴诗玉, E-mail:
  • 基金资助:


A cognitive inquiry into the short-circuit hypothesis in L2 reading: A paradigm of online L2 discourse processing

WU Shiyu; ZHANG Yuying; HU Qingqing   

  1. (School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China)
  • Received:2016-02-16 Online:2017-03-25 Published:2017-03-25
  • Contact: WU Shiyu, E-mail:


本研究以认知心理学的结构建造理论为实验框架, 模拟学习者母语及外语在线篇章处理的过程, 从而获取第二语言阅读“熔断”假说以及“门槛”效应的认知心理证据。英语水平差别显著的高低两组共60名被试参加了英、汉语故事理解加工实验, 考察他们如何对故事的人物角色进行持续跟踪, 以厘清故事内的“因果链”。结果发现:(1)高水平组成功地把他们的母语故事理解加工能力迁移到第二语言的故事理解加工, 而低水平组则迁移失败; (2) 理解加工能力的迁移与被试心理表征建构能力以及抑制机制的效率紧密关联, 高水平组被试能有效地利用抑制机制来管理他们第二语言的结构建造过程, 从而建立对故事的连贯心理表征, 而低水平组则不能。在分析上述结果的基础上, 文章提出第二语言阅读“熔断”假说的认知心理证据就是第二语言心理表征建构与抑制机制的作用问题; 要成功地进行第二语言篇章理解, 读者必须要使其二语潜在的能力(如词汇效率等)发展到某个点上, 使得与抑制(结构建造的关键)相关的许多无意识的决定过程能够高度自动化。

关键词: 篇章, 理解加工, “熔断”假说, 抑制, 心理表征


The Short-Circuit Hypothesis is one of the best-known theories in L2 (second language) reading. It proposes that the L2 reader has to reach a threshold level of L2 language proficiency in order to transfer his/her reading skills to L2 reading; otherwise insufficient knowledge of the L2 will “short-circuit” the readers’ reading system. In the 1980s, against the background of this hypothesis, the issue of the relation between L1 (first language) reading and L2 reading has been a matter of theoretical debate in many publications as “a reading problem or language problems”. Accumulative evidence was in support of the hypothesis. However, discussions came to a stop in the 1990s, and research on L2 reading procrastinated. Many key issues proposed by this hypothesis, however, remain to be resolved. A major problem with the previous research is that many studies were methodologically test-based and product-oriented. Little research was devoted to the investigation of the psycho-cognitive nature of the threshold effect and the short-circuiting of readers’ reading systems. The present article attempted to approach the short-circuit hypothesis and examine the threshold effect by viewing L2 reading as a complex psycho-cognitive process. More specifically, using the Structure Building Framework by Gernsbacher (1990), it examined how L2 readers built mental representations of the L2 texts they were reading and what cognitive processes were involved in the threshold effect for L2 reading. Two groups of participants with different levels of English proficiency took part in an online task of L2 narrative processing. During the test, they read 30 stories in both English and Chinese which were experimentally manipulated to have different kinds of story character: rementioning the original character, introducing a new character, and presenting neutral information. After reading each paragraph, they responded to a test probe, which was designed to test whether they could keep track of story characters and thus follow the causal chain in the stories. Results indicated that the L2 group with a high level of English proficiency successfully transferred their comprehension skills from L1 to L2. The data of the L2 narrative comprehension further indicated that they efficiently suppressed the noisy information (irrelevant story characters) during comprehension and built “networked, cohesive” mental structures with few substructures. For the L2 group with a low level of English proficiency, a different pattern of results was found. They failed to transfer their L1 comprehension skills to L2 reading. It was also shown that, although they could suppress the noisy information during L1 comprehension, they failed to suppress the irrelevant information during L2 narrative comprehension, which resulted in “bulkier, less cohesive” mental structures of the L2 texts. Based on these results, this article proposes that the transfer of L2 reading comprehension skills is associated with the readers’ mechanism of suppression. It was the inefficiency of their mechanism of suppression that hampered low-level readers’ transfer of L1 comprehension skills to the L2.

Key words: L2 reading, Short-circuit hypothesis, the threshold effect, suppression, mental representations