Psychocentricity and participant profiles: Implications for lexical processing among multilinguals

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Lexical processing among bilinguals is often affected by complex patterns of individual experience. In this paper we discuss the psychocentric perspective on language representation and processing, which highlights the centrality of individual experience in psycholinguistic experimentation. We discuss applications to the investigation of lexical processing among multilinguals and explore the advantages of using high-density experiments with multilinguals. High density experiments are designed to co-index measures of lexical perception and production, as well as participant profiles. We discuss the challenges associated with the characterization of participant profiles and present a new data visualization technique, that we term Facial Profiles. This technique is based on Chernoff faces developed over 40 years ago. The Facial Profile technique seeks to overcome some of the challenges associated with the use of Chernoff faces, while maintaining the core insight that recoding multivariate data as facial features can engage the human face recognition system and thus enhance our ability to detect and interpret patterns within multivariate datasets. We demonstrate that Facial Profiles can code participant characteristics in lexical processing studies by recoding variables such as reading ability, speaking ability, and listening ability into iconically-related relative sizes of eye, mouth, and ear, respectively. The balance of ability in bilinguals can be captured by creating composite facial profiles or Janus Facial Profiles. We demonstrate the use of Facial Profiles and Janus Facial Profiles in the characterization of participant effects in the study of lexical perception and production. In this paper, we present a psychocentric view of language representation and processing, one that claims that, fundamentally, language representations have their reality in patterns of cognitive processing (Derwing, 1973). We claim that the psychocentric perspective is particularly relevant to the study of language processing in multilinguals in general and in modeling of the mental lexicon of multilinguals in particular. Tapping psychocentric effects requires the ability to triangulate among language perception ability, production ability, and individual participant properties. We have found that high density experimental paradigms such as those employed by Libben et al. (2012a,b) can capture these effects within an integrated experimental framework and that the evaluation of participant profile effects can be augmented through data visualization techniques such as the ones we present in this paper. © 2014 Libben, Curtiss and Weber.




Libben, G., Curtiss, K., & Weber, S. (2014). Psychocentricity and participant profiles: Implications for lexical processing among multilinguals. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(JUN).

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