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Janet Hui-wen Hsiao, Garrison Cottrell; Perception of Chinese characters in novices' and experts' eyes: Similarities and differences between face and Chinese character recognition. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):966. doi: 10.1167/8.6.966.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
We use the logographic characteristic of Chinese orthography to examine whether face-specific effects, such as holistic processing and the left side bias effect (Bruce & Young, 1998), can also be observed in expertise-level Chinese character processing by comparing novices' and experts' perception of Chinese characters. We first examine holistic processing with the complete composite paradigm (Gauthier & Bukach, 2007). We show that non-Chinese readers (novices) perceive characters more holistically (i.e. stronger composite effect) than Chinese readers (experts). Chinese readers have a better awareness of the components of characters, which are not clearly separable to novices. This result suggests that holistic processing is neither face-specific nor expertise-specific; it depends on the features of the stimuli and the tasks typically performed on the stimuli. We then use mirror-symmetric Chinese characters to examine the left side bias effect. We create “chimeric characters” from the symmetric characters in the most common fonts (Ming and Kai, which are slightly asymmetric). A right chimeric character consists of two right-halves of the original character, whereas a left chimeric character consists of two left-halves of the original character. We show that, similar to face perception, when asked to judge whether the left or the right chimeric character looks more similar to the original one, Chinese readers have a preference over the left chimeric character, whereas non-Chinese readers do not have a preference; this effect is also reflected in the eye movement data: a leftward shift in the preferred landing position when viewing the characters among Chinese readers compared with non-Chinese readers. This result suggests that the left side bias effect may be a real visual expertise marker.
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