Spatial language and the psychological reality of schematization
Although the representations underlying spatial language are often assumed to be schematic in nature, empirical evidence for a schematic format of representation is lacking. In this research, we investigate the psychological reality of such a format, using simulated motion during scene processing—previously linked to schematization—as a diagnostic. One group of participants wrote a verbal description of a scene and then completed a change detection task assessing simulated motion, while another group completed only the latter task. We expected that effects of simulated motion would be stronger following language use than not, and specifically following the use of spatial, relative to non-spatial, language. Both predictions were supported. Further, the effect of language was scene independent, suggesting that language may encourage a general mode of schematic construal. The study and its findings illustrate a novel approach to examining the perceptual properties of mental representations.
KeywordsSpatial language Schematization Mental simulation Language–thought interface
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