The Effects of Properties of the Radicals in Radical Migration Phenomena

Volume 11
Issue 1
H. Saito, G.B. Flores d’Arcais, M. Kawakami, & H. Masuda
Illusory conjunctions of letters have been observed with words presented in alphabetic writing systems. The work here reported investigates a related phenomenon, "radical blending," that may occur during the processing of kanji, the Japanese logographic script. In this work, we presented participants with two briefly exposed "source" characters (e.g., 複 浴), each of which contained two components or "radicals." These characters were subsequently masked, and then followed by a probe character (e.g., 裕) that, under critical conditions, shared one or two radicals with the source characters. Participants were asked to decide as quickly as possible if the probe was one of the two source characters. We found that the probability of participants to erroneously report that they had seen the probe in the source pair (i.e., produce a false positive response) was related primarily to some consistency between the source and the probe characters. This included the position of the same radicals in the source and in the probe characters (local consistency) and the left or right position of the characters in the source display (global consistency). Homophony between source characters and the probe character also played some roles. The results suggest that, in processing kanji characters, readers are sensitive to statistical properties of radicals, such as the number of radicals taking left or right position, and the number of their pronunciations.

Key words: illusory conjunction, letter migration, radical migration, kanji