Semantic Size of Abstract Concepts: It Gets Emotional When You Can't See It

Yao, Bo and Vasiljevic, Milica and Weick, Mario and Sereno, Margaret E. and O'Donnell, Patrick J. and Sereno, Sara C. (2013) Semantic Size of Abstract Concepts: It Gets Emotional When You Can't See It. PLoS ONE, 8 (9). ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

Size is an important visuo-spatial characteristic of the physical world. In language processing, previous research has demonstrated a processing advantage for words denoting semantically “big” (e.g., jungle) versus “small” (e.g., needle) concrete objects. We investigated whether semantic size plays a role in the recognition of words expressing abstract concepts (e.g., truth). Semantically “big” and “small” concrete and abstract words were presented in a lexical decision task. Responses to “big” words, regardless of their concreteness, were faster than those to “small” words. Critically, we explored the relationship between semantic size and affective characteristics of words as well as their influence on lexical access. Although a word’s semantic size was correlated with its emotional arousal, the temporal locus of arousal effects may depend on the level of concreteness. That is, arousal seemed to have an earlier (lexical) effect on abstract words, but a later (post-lexical) effect on concrete words. Our findings provide novel insights into the semantic representations of size in abstract concepts and highlight that affective attributes of words may not always index lexical access.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
PLoS ONE
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2700
Subjects:
ID Code:
174655
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
18 Aug 2022 08:40
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
18 Aug 2022 09:00