Influences Beyond Language: Comparing Spatial Referencing in Native French Speakers from Four Countries


Research has shown that spatial referencing differs across cultures. Whether “Western” samples, specifically ones speaking the same native language, show the same referencing patterns has not been investigated thus far. Examining spatial referencing behavior across different tasks, we compared samples from four different countries speaking the same language with respect to their application of the intrinsic frame of reference (FoR) and the three variants of the relative FoR. Our findings indicate influences of factors beyond language: While the four French-speaking samples showed an overall preference for the reflection variant of the relative FoR, they differed significantly regarding the extent to which reflection and the intrinsic FoR were applied. Moreover, in all samples, characteristics of the referenced objects, namely whether they were animate or inanimate, influenced FoR use. The order of tasks also had an impact on referencing behavior.

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