Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 954–958 | Cite as

Spatial iconicity affects semantic relatedness judgments

  • Rolf A. Zwaan
  • Richard H. Yaxley
Brief Reports


Three experiments were conducted to examine whether spatial iconicity affects semantic-relatedness judgments. Subjects made speeded decisions with regard to whether members of a simultaneously presented word pair were semantically related. In Experiment 1, the words were presented one above the other. In the experimental pair, the words denoted parts of larger objects (e.g., ATTIC-BASEMENT). The words were either in an iconic relation with their referents (e.g., ATTIC presented above BASEMENT) or in a reverse-iconic relation (BASEMENT above ATTIC). The reverse-iconic condition yielded significantly slower semantic-relatedness judgments than did the iconic condition. Experiments 2 and 3 showed that this effect did not occur when the words were presented horizontally, thus ruling out that the iconicity effect is due to the order in which the words are read. Two alternative explanations for this finding are discussed.


Word Pair Latent Semantic Analysis Average Response Time Right Hemisphere Filler Item 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Supplementary material (13 kb)
Supplementary material, approximately 340 KB.


  1. Barsalou, L.W. (1999). Perceptual symbol systems.Behavioral & Brain Sciences,22, 577–660.Google Scholar
  2. Cohen, J. [D.], MacWhinney, B., Flatt, M., &Provost.J. (1993). PsyScope: An interactive graphic system for designing and controlling experiments in the psychology laboratory using Macintosh computers.Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers,25, 257–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Jakobson, R. (1971).Selected writings: Vol. 2. Word and language. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar
  4. Kellenbach, M. L.,Wijers, A. A., &Mulder, G. (2000). Visual semantic features are activated during the processing of concrete words: Event-related potential evidence for perceptual semantic priming.Cognitive Brain Research,10, 67–75.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Landauer, T. K., &Dumais, S. T. (1997). A solution to Plato’s problem: The latent semantic analysis theory of the acquisition, induction, and representation of knowledge.Psychological Review,104, 211–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Langacker, R. W. (1999). On subjectification and grammaticization. In J.-P. Koenig (Ed.),Discourse and cognition: Bridging the gap (pp. 71–89). Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
  7. Lu, C.-H., &Proctor, R.W. (1995). The influence of irrelevant location information on performance: A review of the Simon and spatial Stroop effects.Psychonomic Bulletin & Review,5, 174–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. MacLeod, C. M. (1991). Half a century of research on the Stroop effect: An integrative review.Psychological Bulletin,109, 163–203.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Mandler, J. M. (1986). On the comprehension of temporal order.Language & Cognitive Processes,1, 309–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Mÿnte, T. F., Schiltz, K., &Kutas, M. (1998). When temporal terms belie conceptual order.Nature,395, 71–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Nelson, D. L., McEvoy, C. L., & Schreiber, T. A. (1998).The University of South Florida word association, rhyme, and word fragment norms. Available at Scholar
  12. Paivio, A. (1986).Mental representations: A dual coding approach. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Peirce, C. S. (1992).The essential Peirce: Vol. 1 (1867-1893) (N. Hauser & C. Kloesel, Eds.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Pulvermÿller, F. (1999). Words in the brain’s language.Behavioral & Brain Sciences,22, 253–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rinck, M., &Bower, G. H. (2000). Temporal and spatial distance in situation models.Memory & Cognition,28, 1310–1320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sadoski, M., &Paivio, A. (2001).Imagery and text: A dual coding theory of reading and writing. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  17. Stanfield, R. A., &Zwaan, R. A. (2001). The effect of implied orientation derived from verbal context on picture recognition.Psychological Science,12, 153–156.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Tranel, D., Damasio, H., &Damasio, A. R. (1997). A neural basis for the retrieval of conceptual knowledge.Neuropsychologia,35, 1319–1327.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. White, B.W. (1969). Interference in identifying attributes and attribute names.Perception & Psychophysics,6, 166–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Zwaan, R. A. (1996). Processing narrative time shifts.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition,22, 1196–1207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Zwaan, R. A., &Radvansky, G. A. (1998). Situation models in language comprehension and memory.Psychological Bulletin,123, 162–185.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Zwaan, R. A., Stanfield, R. A., &Yaxley, R. H. (2002). Do language comprehenders routinely represent the shapes of objects?Psychological Science,13, 168–171.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Zwaan, R. A., & Yaxley, R. H. (2003).Hemispheric differences in semantic-relatedness judgments. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyFlorida State UniversityTallahassee

Personalised recommendations