Recent theories propose that abstract concepts, compared to concrete ones, might activate to a larger extent interoceptive, social and linguistic experiences. At the same time, recent research has underlined the importance of investigating how different sub-kinds of abstract concepts are represented. We report a pre-registered experiment, preceded by a pilot study, in which we asked participants to evaluate the difficulty of 3 kinds of concrete concepts (natural objects, tools, and food concepts) and abstract concepts (Philosophical and Spiritual concepts, PS, Physical Space Time and Quantity concepts, PSTQ, and Emotional, Mental State and Social concepts, EMSS). While rating the words, participants were assigned to different conditions designed to interfere with conceptual processing: they were required to squeeze a ball (hand motor system activation), to chew gum (mouth motor system activation), to self-estimate their heartbeats (interoception), and to perform a motor articulatory task (inner speech involvement). In a control condition they simply rated the difficulty of words. A possible interference should result in the increase of the difficulty ratings. Bayesian analyses reveal that, compared to concrete ones, abstract concepts are more grounded in interoceptive experience and concrete concepts less in linguistic experience (mouth motor system involvement), and that the experience on which different kinds of abstract and concrete concepts differs widely. For example, within abstract concepts interoception plays a major role for EMSS and PS concepts, while the ball squeezing condition interferes more for PSTQ concepts, confirming that PSTQ are the most concrete among abstract concepts, and tap into sensorimotor manual experience. Implications of the results for current theories of conceptual representation are discussed.

Sensorimotor and interoceptive dimensions in concrete and abstract concepts

Liuzza M. T.
Formal Analysis
;
2021-01-01

Abstract

Recent theories propose that abstract concepts, compared to concrete ones, might activate to a larger extent interoceptive, social and linguistic experiences. At the same time, recent research has underlined the importance of investigating how different sub-kinds of abstract concepts are represented. We report a pre-registered experiment, preceded by a pilot study, in which we asked participants to evaluate the difficulty of 3 kinds of concrete concepts (natural objects, tools, and food concepts) and abstract concepts (Philosophical and Spiritual concepts, PS, Physical Space Time and Quantity concepts, PSTQ, and Emotional, Mental State and Social concepts, EMSS). While rating the words, participants were assigned to different conditions designed to interfere with conceptual processing: they were required to squeeze a ball (hand motor system activation), to chew gum (mouth motor system activation), to self-estimate their heartbeats (interoception), and to perform a motor articulatory task (inner speech involvement). In a control condition they simply rated the difficulty of words. A possible interference should result in the increase of the difficulty ratings. Bayesian analyses reveal that, compared to concrete ones, abstract concepts are more grounded in interoceptive experience and concrete concepts less in linguistic experience (mouth motor system involvement), and that the experience on which different kinds of abstract and concrete concepts differs widely. For example, within abstract concepts interoception plays a major role for EMSS and PS concepts, while the ball squeezing condition interferes more for PSTQ concepts, confirming that PSTQ are the most concrete among abstract concepts, and tap into sensorimotor manual experience. Implications of the results for current theories of conceptual representation are discussed.
2021
Abstract and Concrete concepts
Embodied and Grounded cognition
Hand motor system
Interoception
Motor interference
Mouth motor system
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12317/63273
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