On the way to an interpreter advantage in coordination

Published: 8 July 2022| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/s3smmnb5gy.1
Fei Zhong, Yanping Dong


We hypothesize that there may be an interpreter advantage associated with the bottleneck switching component of the coordination skill. If an advantage in coordination was to be found in the present study, the advantageous group of interpreting students would outperform in dual-task costs (the difference between dual-task and single-task conditions, with smaller costs suggesting better coordination), and the better performance would be restricted to Task 2 (suggesting bottleneck switching component of coordination). The advantage may probably be found at the intermediate stage of interpreting training (Experiment 1) but not at the beginning stage (Experiment 2). Data obtained from the dual-task experiment included accuracy (ACC) and response time (RT) for Task 1 and Task 2. The four types of data were analyzed separately following the same procedure. Specifically, the dual-task costs were subjected to an ANCOVA analysis with a between-group variable of Group (Interpreting, Control for Experiment 1; Interpreting-less and Control for Experiment 2a; Interpreting-more and Control for Experiment 2b), a within-group variable of Condition (dual-task_100, dual-task_150, dual-task_450, with 100, 150, 450 referring to the three SOA conditions). The covariate for Experiment 1 (the intermediate stage of interpreting training) was mother’s education level, and that for Experiment 2a (the beginning stage, with relatively less interpreting training) was L2 proficiency and frequency of L2 use, but there was no covariate for Experiment 2b. The results showed that, in Experiment 1, the Interpreter group exhibited smaller dual-task costs only in Task 2 than the Control group, suggesting an interpreter advantage in coordination, especially in the bottleneck switching component at the intermediate stage of interpreting training. In Experiment 2a and 2b, no significant group differences were obtained, suggesting no evidence for an interpreter advantage in coordination.


Steps to reproduce

The experiments were conducted with E-prime 2.0, using a Psychological Refractory Period (PRP) dual-task. The task consisted of an auditory (Task 1) and a visual (Task 2) tasks. In Task 1, participants would hear a tone whose pitch was high (3250 Hz), middle (880Hz) or low (350 Hz), and they were asked to respond to the tones respectively with the fourth finger, the middle one, and the index one of their right hand. In Task 2, they would see a white triangle whose size was small, medium or large, and they were required to make a response to the triangles respectively with the same three fingers of their left hand. The background of the screen was black throughout the experiment. The experiment started with a single-task block of the auditory task (i.e., only the tones were presented), and then that of the visual task (i.e., only the triangles were presented), followed by three dual-task blocks (i.e., both types of stimuli were presented). In single-task blocks, each trial began with three horizontally arranged white dashes, with the central one placed at the center of the screen. After 500 ms, a tone was presented for 50 ms, or a triangle was presented above the central dash until the end of the trial (i.e., when a response was made or when it exceeded 2500 ms after stimulus onset). In dual-task blocks, three dashes were presented first in the same way as that in the single-task blocks. Then a tone was presented for 50 ms, followed by a triangle with an SOA of 100 ms, 150 ms or 450 ms (with each block containing an equal number of the three SOAs), which disappeared at the end of the trial (i.e., when a response for the triangle was made or when it exceeded 2500 ms after the onset of the triangle). The ISI was 0 ms. The dashes remained on the screen throughout the experiment. Participants were instructed to give response priority to Task 1, and were required to make responses as accurately and quickly as they could. Each single-task block consisted of 54 trials, with 18 trials for each type of stimuli (i.e., low/middle/high tones or small/medium/large triangles). Each of the three dual-task blocks consisted of 54 trials (stimuli pairs), with two trials for each of the 9 types of stimulus pair (low/medium/high tone ~ small/ medium/ large triangle) at each of the three SOA conditions. Within each block, the trials were pseudo-randomly presented on the condition that the same stimulus did not appear in more than three consecutive trials. In Experiment 1, we recruited a group of graduates majoring in interpreting (the Interpreting group), and those majoring in linguistics and literature (the Control group). In Experiment 2, we recruited two groups of undergraduates majoring in translation and interpreting with either less (the Interpreting-less group in Experiment 2a) or more interpreting training experience (the Interpreting-more group in 2b), each of which was compared with a Control group of undergraduates majoring in literature.


Southwestern University of Finance and Economics