Bi-dimensional semantic scales: the embodied maps of meanings
a b S t r a c t Osgood developed the semantic differential to bridge the phenomena from semantics and perception, and we applied its modified version to investigate current issues in cognitive science. We used two-dimensional rather than one-dimensional space to position nominal word items, and subjected data to multidimensional scaling (MDS). In Experiment 1 (paper-and-pencil) participants judged concrete and abstract nouns on seven bipolar semantic differential scales in three perceptual
... ities: visual, auditory and touch. Six months later, in Experiment 2 (computer-assisted), the same participants mapped the same ten nouns on a balanced subset of two-dimensional planes. Our findings support the hypothesis that semantic space is physically constrained. MDS over one-dimensional ratings from Experiment 1 resulted in a particular two-dimensional solution. This two-dimensional combination was very similar to one of the raw two-dimensional maps from Experiment 2. We then concluded that this particular raw two-dimensional map is highly informative, as it captures almost all differences between word items in the given set of perceptual opposites. Its informativeness proved to be robust to experimental administration (paper-and-pencil vs. computerassisted) and scale-orientations (horizontal vs. vertical). Recent theories, such as Barsalou's perceptual theory of knowledge, capture the tradition of conceptualizing all knowledge as inherently perceptual. Our results strongly support these theories.