Previous research has presented conflicting evidence regarding whether Chinese characters are processed holistically. In past work, we applied Systems Factorial Technology (SFT) and discovered that native Chinese speakers exhibited limited capacity when processing characters and words. To pinpoint the source of this limitation, our current research delved further into the mental architecture involved in processing Chinese characters and English words, taking into consideration information from each component. In our current study, participants were directed to make the same/different judgments on characters/words presented sequentially. Our results indicated that participants utilized a parallel self-terminating strategy when both or neither of the left/right components differed (Experiment 1). Faced with the decisional uncertainty that either the left/right component would also differ, most participants processed with a parallel exhaustive architecture, while a few exhibited the coactive architecture (Experiment 2). Taken together, our work provides evidence that in word/character perception, there is weak holistic processing (parallel self-terminating processing) when partial information is sufficient for the decision; robust holistic processing (coactive or parallel exhaustive processing) occurs under decisional uncertainty. Our findings underscore the significant role that the task and presentation context play in visual word processing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes