Our full-time teaching assistant, Sze Wei Ping, recently won the Wang Gungwu Medal and Prize, awarded for the best Masters thesis in the Social Sciences/Humanities. Congratulations and well done, Wei Ping! A brief summary of his thesis research is appended below.
This thesis is a megastudy that focuses on what lexical variables influence the reading of Chinese characters. 35 native mainland Chinese speakers participated in a lexical decision task (press “Yes” for characters and “No” for pseudo-characters). Lexical decision response latencies for 2,500 single characters were collected. Orthographic (e.g., frequency, stroke count), semantic (e.g., imageability) and phonological factors (e.g., consistency) were examined. Based on correct responses for the characters, the results showed that both orthographic and semantic variables were more salient than phonological variables in predicting character recognition. In this thesis, some of the advantages associated with the megastudy approach were also demonstrated. This includes the selection of the best metric to represent frequency and the conducting of a virtual study. As this is the first comprehensive attempt to understand Chinese character recognition using lexical decision on a large scale, the results could shine light on some mixed findings previously found in smaller-scale factorial experiments.