UC Merced Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society Title Motion Language Shapes People's Interpretation of Unrelated Ambiguous Figures Publication Date

Alexia Dils, Boroditsky, Lera, Alexia Dils, Lera Boroditsky
2008 Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society   unpublished
When we hear a story that describes motion, do we naturally imagine the motion described? To what extent do the mental images generated through language share processing resources with perception? In our studies, people read a story describing upward or downward motion and were later asked to interpret an unrelated ambiguous figure. The figure could have been seen as a bird flying upward or downward, and the participants were simply asked to "draw a worm in the bird's beak". People's
more » ... People's interpretations of the ambiguous figure revealed a congruity effect when the stories depicted visual motion of a real world object. Those who had read a story describing upward motion were more likely to interpret the ambiguous image as a bird flying up than those who read a story describing downward motion. However, there was no effect when the stories depicted metaphorical motion. These findings suggest that more concrete linguistic descriptions of motion do generate representations or mental states that interact with perception. Further these studies provide hints about the level at which representations generated by normal language processing interact with perceptual processing.
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