Objective ages of acquisition for 3300+ simplified Chinese characters

Zhenguang G. Cai*, Shuting Huang, Zebo Xu, Nan Zhao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


We report the construction of two age-of-acquisition (AoA) norms for 3300+ characters in simplified Chinese, which make up about 99% of the texts used in daily life. We determined a character’s AoA according to the time in which the character is formally learned in two sets of leading textbooks of Chinese in compulsory education, published respectively on the basis of the 2001 and 2011 national curriculum. Apart from having a significantly larger coverage of characters than previous norms, the current norms also outperformed them in explaining accuracy and reaction times in four large-scale databases for character decision, character naming, or character handwriting, even after controlling for the effects of frequency, number of meanings, and number of strokes. The explanatory advantage of the current norms suggests that, compared to earlier norms, the current norms capture more up-to-date character AoAs; these findings also highlight the diachronic nature of some lexical variables such as AoA and frequency. The developed objective AoA norms can be used for subsequent research on Chinese character recognition or production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311–323
Number of pages13
JournalBehavior Research Methods
Issue number1
Early online date22 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Age of acquisition
  • Character
  • Chinese
  • Lexical processing
  • Textbook


Dive into the research topics of 'Objective ages of acquisition for 3300+ simplified Chinese characters'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this