Psychstudio comes with some very powerful and expressive text manipulation tools built in, perfect for use in psycholinguistic experiments and linguistics studies.
Variables allow for complex manipulation of text items and can be used in the following ways:
- can be applied to any part of a text item.
- can be nested.
- can be applied to other variables.
- multiple variables can be applied to the same part of a text item (including application to other variables).
- can be used to inject sections of text into a text item.
Variable notation is of the form:
Adding a variable to the component group
Click New in the in the variable column in the variable manager. Give the variable a name, select the variable type from the dropdown list provided and set the variable strategy:
Exclusive: values will only be allocated once per stimulus cycle (i.e. once a value from this variable has been allocated to a text item, that value will not be available for allocation to any other text item).
Non-exclusive: values can be allocated zero, one or multiple times per stimulus cycle (i.e. a value from this variable can be allocated to multiple text items).
Removing a variable from the component group
Variables can be deleted by clicking on Delete (or D in a small panel) on the undesired variable (i.e. one with a name and strategy value).
WARNING: Deleting a variable will remove:
- any trials rules containing values belonging to the variable.
Adding a value to a variable
Click New in the in the value column of the desired variable in the variable manager and give it a value. Variable values are allocated to their assigned text items randomly.
Removing a value from a variable
Variable values can be deleted by clicking on Delete (or D in a small panel) on the undesired value (i.e. one without a name and strategy value).
WARNING: Deleting a variable value will remove:
Insert text into a text item (a.k.a. text injection, variable substitution)
Injecting text into a text item is referred to as variable substitution. To inject text into an item, we first need to specify a variable in the text item where we wish the injection to take place. As shown in the example below (Figure 1) we have some text items, three of which have a variable called
person and two which have a variable called
place. The notation for text injection is simply
Figure 1. Example text items with injection variables
In the variable manager (Figure 2), we have created some variables with values to inject into their corresponding text items, for example, a text item containing
$(place) will be randomly allocated a value from the
place variable. For example, when composed, the text item and variable together might produce:
It's busy and crowded in the town of Kimpy. I call it ...
Figure 2. Example variables with values
Formatting a text item
Variables can be used to selectively format parts of text items. The notation for text formatting is:
Variables can also be nested like so:
$(variable-name some text $(variable-name2 some more text)). Specificity of application of nested variables is:
- global (set by editing the stimulus component on the trials timeline).
- innermost to outermost.
So in the nested example above,
will take precedence over
The following formatting variable types are available:
Let's take a look at a classic, yet simple example, the Stroop task (ignoring levels for brevity). As shown below (Figure 3), we have five text items and a single variable
ink-color (of the type Font color) with five values.
The first text item is
$(ink-color Brown), which can be described as: the variable
ink-color applied to the text
Brown. For example, when composed, the text item and variable together might produce: Brown, which can be described as the word
Brown with the variable
ink-color and (random) value
Figure 3. Example text items and variables (Stroop task)
Finally, let's look at a little more complex and completely contrived example:
The $(strike? quick) $(italic? brown $(ink-color $(animal))) jumps $(bold? ($(background over)) the) lazy $(animal).
When composed, we might end up with something like: The quick brown dog jumps (over) the lazy fox.
Note: strike? italic? and bold? are all boolean type values (i.e. either true or false).
TIP: for weighted booleans you can add uneven numbers of true and false values to the variable (e.g. three true and one false).