What’s Up can be Explained by Language Statistics


Concept-location facilitation effects for words presented in isolation have been cited as evidence for embodied cognition. Prior work has demonstrated that words found in high physical locations (e.g., bird) are processed faster at the top of the screen and words found in low physical locations (e.g., fish) are processed faster at the bottom of the screen. In a response time experiment we presented participants with physical-location words from existing studies at the top or bottom, top or center, and center or bottom of the screen. We did this in order to determine if word judgments were made with respect to an absolute location on the screen (embodied explanation) or with respect to a relative location in comparison to other words included in the experimental session (statistical linguistic explanation). For animate words we found a concept location facilitation effect for words presented at the top of the screen, at the center of the screen, and at the bottom of the screen. In addition, bigram frequencies explained RTs to center words. Findings indicated that subjects made judgments relative to other words on the screen and not relative to their absolute location on the screen, lending support to a statistical linguistic explanation of the findings.

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