Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Cindy Bukach


Evidence from past research suggests that when people process objects in which they are experts, such as faces and Roman letters, they usually engage in holistic processing which is the processing of multiple parts of a stimulus (Bukach, Gauthier, & Tarr, 2006; Wong et al., 2011). However, Hsiao and Cottrell (2009) found the opposite result such that novices used holistic processing in Chinese character recognition while experts did not. The current study explored the correlation between expertise and holistic processing of Chinese characters. We used the composite task to measure holistic processing of Chinese characters from English native- speakers who have learned Chinese, and the basic level advantage task (Wong & Gauthier, 2007) to measure their proficiency in Chinese. We found clear evidence that holistic processing correlates with expertise as shown by a significant positive correlation between the holistic processing of real Chinese characters and the number of years of studying Chinese. This indicates that the longer a participant has studied Chinese, the more holistically s/he processes real Chinese characters. Another significant positive correlation between the holistic processing of Chinese pseudo characters and Chinese character proficiency where smaller scores indicate greater expertise shows that the lower the proficiency in Chinese a participant has, the more holistically s/he processes Chinese pseudo characters. These results not only add more evidence to the argument that holistic processing is associated with expertise but they also support the idea that holistic processing is not unique to face recognition.

Included in

Psychology Commons