Flexible Shortcuts: Linguistic Distributional Information Affects both Shallow and Deep Conceptual Processing


Previous research has shown that people use both embodied perceptual simulations and linguistic distributional knowledge during conceptual processing, with linguistic information especially useful for shallow tasks and rapid responding. Using two conceptual combination tasks, we show that this linguistic shortcut is evident in both shallow and deep conceptual processing of novel stimuli. Specifically, in both shallow sensibility judgement and deep interpretation generation tasks, people use the linguistic shortcut as a “quick and dirty” guide to whether the concepts are likely to combine in a coherent situated simulation. Linguistic distributional frequency predicts both the likelihood and timecourse of rejecting a novel word compound as nonsensical or uninterpretable. However, it only predicts the timecourse of successful processing in shallow sensibility judgement because deeper interpretation generation requires conceptual processing in the simulation system.

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