Framed: Factors influencing reference frame choice in tabletop space


While English speakers generally rely on a viewer-centered frame of reference when interpreting table-top space, they will also adopt an object-centered frame in certain situations—prompting the question: What factors determine which frame? The current research investigates two possible contributors: the intrinsic “frontedness” of a reference object involved in the scene and the syntactic structure of the sentence used to describe the scene. If an object possesses an “intrinsic front side,” then this side should highlight the properties necessary for the object to be capable of having its own distinguishable perspective. Also, certain linguistic constructions may further increase the salience of the reference object’s inherent geometrical properties, leading to greater use of an object-centered frame.

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