Dataset Information


Naming a Lego world. The role of language in the acquisition of abstract concepts.

ABSTRACT: While embodied approaches of cognition have proved to be successful in explaining concrete concepts and words, they have more difficulties in accounting for abstract concepts and words, and several proposals have been put forward. This work aims to test the Words As Tools proposal, according to which both abstract and concrete concepts are grounded in perception, action and emotional systems, but linguistic information is more important for abstract than for concrete concept representation, due to the different ways they are acquired: while for the acquisition of the latter linguistic information might play a role, for the acquisition of the former it is instead crucial. We investigated the acquisition of concrete and abstract concepts and words, and verified its impact on conceptual representation. In Experiment 1, participants explored and categorized novel concrete and abstract entities, and were taught a novel label for each category. Later they performed a categorical recognition task and an image-word matching task to verify a) whether and how the introduction of language changed the previously formed categories, b) whether language had a major weight for abstract than for concrete words representation, and c) whether this difference had consequences on bodily responses. The results confirm that, even though both concrete and abstract concepts are grounded, language facilitates the acquisition of the latter and plays a major role in their representation, resulting in faster responses with the mouth, typically associated with language production. Experiment 2 was a rating test aiming to verify whether the findings of Experiment 1 were simply due to heterogeneity, i.e. to the fact that the members of abstract categories were more heterogeneous than those of concrete categories. The results confirmed the effectiveness of our operationalization, showing that abstract concepts are more associated with the mouth and concrete ones with the hand, independently from heterogeneity.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC4309617 | BioStudies | 2015-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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