Laboratory of Informatics of Grenoble Équipe Ingénierie de l'Interaction Humain-Machine

Équipe Ingénierie de l'Interaction

Examining word writing in handwriting and smartphone-writing: orthographic processing affects movement production in different ways

In Writing Word(s) Workshop. 2023.

Anna Anastaseni, Quentin Roy, Cyril Perret, Antonio Romano, Sonia Kandel


New technological devices are changing the way we communicate. With the popularization of smartphones, some people spend more time writing on a phone than handwriting or typing on a keyboard. Does phone-writing change the way we process orthographic information? Does this affect movement production? In the present study, French participants had to write words in a spelling to dictation task. They wrote orthographically consistent and inconsistent short and long words. First, they had to write the words by hand in upper-case letters on a digitizer. One month later, they had to write the words on a smartphone. The results revealed that orthographic consistency affects the spelling processes in both handwriting and phone-writing. We observe more spelling errors for inconsistent words than consistent ones. When analyzing the movement production of the words that were spelled correctly, the data revealed that the timing of orthographic processing differs between the two ways of writing. Orthographic consistency seems to affect the time before movement initiation (latency data) in handwriting, especially in short words. In addition, once the participant starts to write, it also mediates movement production throughout the whole word, affecting the timing of the initial and final letters of the word. In phone-writing, orthographic consistency tends to modulate movement production at the end of the word. Inconsistent words require more processing time than consistent words, especially when they are long. These timing differences are not surprising, since the whole word writing process is much longer in handwriting than in phone-writing. We are preparing another phone-writing experiment in which we examine the implementation of word suggestions. With word suggestions, the spelling processes are no longer a mere recall of information on the letter components of a word. While writing the first letters, smartphones suggest words on top of the virtual keyboard to complete the target word before we write the last letters. This back and forth mechanism of writing letters, reading word suggestions and selecting one of them, radically changes the way we process orthographic information during word writing.