Researchers have demonstrated the importance of phonology in literacy acquisition and in visual word recognition. For example, the spelling-to-sound consistency effect has been observed in visual word recognition tasks, in which the naming responses are faster and more accurate for words with the same letters that also have the same pronunciation (e.g. -ean is always pronounced /in/, as in lean, dean, and bean). In addition, some studies have reported a much less intuitive feedback consistency effect when a rime can be spelled in different ways (e.g. /ip/ in heap and deep) in lexical decision tasks. Such findings suggest that, with activation flowing back and forth between orthographic and phonological units during word processing, any inconsistency in the mappings between orthography and phonology should weaken the stability of the feedback loop, and, thus, should delay recognition. However, several studies have failed to show reliable feedback consistency in printed word recognition. One possible reason for this is that the feedback consistency is naturally confounded with many other variables, such as orthographic neighborhood or bigram frequency, as these variables are difficult to tease apart. Furthermore, there are challenges in designing factorial experiments that perfectly balance lexical stimuli on all factors besides feedback consistency. This study aims to examine the feedback consistency effect in reading Chinese characters by using a normative data of 3,423 Chinese phonograms. We collected the lexical decision time from 180 college students. A linear mixed model analysis was used to examine the feedback consistency effect by taking into account additional properties that may be confounded with feedback consistency, including character frequency, number of strokes, phonetic combinability, semantic combinability, semantic ambiguity, phonetic consistency, noun-to-verb ratios, and morphological boundedness. Some typical effects were observed, such as the more frequent and familiar a character, the faster one can decide it is a real character. More importantly, the linear mixed model analysis revealed a significant feedback consistency effect while controlling for other factors, which indicated that the pronunciation of phonograms might accommodate the organization of Chinese orthographic representation. Our study disentangled the feedback consistency from the many other factors, and supports the view that phonological activation would reverberate to orthographic representation in visual word recognition.
- Feedback consistency
- Interactive activation models
- Lexical decision
- Linear mixed model