Transfer of Perceptual Expertise: The Case of Simplified and Traditional Chinese Character Recognition

Cognitive Science 40 (8):1941-1968 (2016)
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Expertise in Chinese character recognition is marked by reduced holistic processing, which depends mainly on writing rather than reading experience. Here we show that, while simplified and traditional Chinese readers demonstrated a similar level of HP when processing characters shared between the simplified and traditional scripts, simplified Chinese readers were less holistic than traditional Chinese readers in perceiving simplified characters; this effect depended mainly on their writing rather than reading performance. However, the two groups did not differ in HP of traditional characters, regardless of their difference in reading and writing performances. Our image analysis showed high visual similarity between the two character types, with a larger variance among simplified characters; this may allow simplified Chinese readers to interpolate and generalize their skills to traditional characters. Thus, transfer of perceptual expertise may be constrained by both the similarity in feature and the difference in exemplar variance between the categories.



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