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From a germane cognitive load perspective, occluded a Chinese character is a design method used by graphic designers to create visual effects and capture people s attention. The design process is normally based on design intuition rather than user recognition, which provides a better reference for design and product criteria. This research therefore investigates how people recall the position of occlusion (when they see an occluded Chinese character) and accurately recognize that character. The research aims to help graphic designers to fast determine appropriate occlusion proportions as well as positions of Chinese characters with different structural types when they use occluded characters to create images in their designs. The research also aims to shorten the difference between design institution and user recognition by assist designers to keep the main recognition feature of Chinese characters and enable people to recognize them more quickly and accurately.
More specifically, this research is divided in three parts and carries out three recognition experiments. The first part of this research is to find the most appropriate occlusion proportion of the Chinese character, and explore appropriate rotated visual angles (diagonal laying) for occluding Chinese characters with different structural types. The result in the first part of the research is then used to design experiment samples (stimuli) for the other two experiments conducted in the research. In the first part of this research, an experiment is conducted based on 18 Chinese characters with two structural types and selected from most commonly used characters, and participants are asked to rank the appropriateness of occlusion proportion for the characters have been shown to them. Participants are also asked to answer to open questions in the experiment. The second part of this research is to explore the impact of composition structure, the position of occlusion, and educational background on the visual identification of Chinese characters in terms of recognition response time and accuracy. A 2 4 2 three-way ANOVA with interactions analysis is performed in this research. In the analysis, the one independent variable representing participant s educational background is a between-subjects, with two levels: design and non-design. The other independent variable is composition structure. The effect of composition structure is a within-subjects factorial design, with two levels: top-middle-bottom structure and left-middle-right structure. The position of occlusion is a between-subjects factorial design, with four levels: top, down, right, and left. There are two dependent variables: response time and response accuracy rate. Except for using the same 18 Chinese characters (stimuli), both the second and third experiments are conducted differently with regard to experiment participant and occlusion position (Chinese characters are occluded single-sided in the second experiment while it is double-sided for the third experiment). The third experiment aims to not only verify the result obtained from the second experiment but also test the effect of occlusion position on both recognition response time and accuracy for the participants with a design educational background.
The experiment result shows that the most appropriate occlusion proportion for a Chinese character is to cut off 2 cm from each side of the grid. For an occluded Chinese character, the primary recognition feature is the key radical (or initial strokes), and the secondary recognition feature is the key component (combination of strokes). For the two occlusion patterns (a character is occluded either single-sided or double-sided), it is best to occlude the right side (including the top-right and bottom-right sides) for a shorter recognition time and higher recognition accuracy since this has the least effect on the main recognition feature of a character. The position of occlusion influences interactively the structural composition regardless whether Chinese characters are occluded single side or double side; therefore, designers should judge both variables carefully before they apply the occlusion method in their designs. Moreover, experiment participants with an educational background in design are more likely to react slowly in recognizing a Chinese character with double-sided occlusions than the participants are not trained in design. This could due to the fact that Chinese characters with higher proportions of occlusion are more likely to be viewed as character pattern by participants educated in design.
This research result helps graphic designers to avoid making mistakes in occluding the main recognition feature of Chinese characters, and assists graphic designers to fast determine appropriate occlusion proportions and positions when they use Chinese characters to create images for posters, greeting cards, products and packages.