Literally and figuratively speaking: How concepts and perception influence each other using Stroop paradigms
Lorentz, Eric J 1990-
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Metaphorical phrases like ‘seeing red’ in anger or ‘red-hot’ for temperature take abstract ideas and ground them more tangible, physical phenomena, suggesting a relationship between semantic meaning and visual attributes. We tested the dominant direction of influence between abstract semantic processing and visual perception by pairing words and visual attributes in the same stimulus. Semantic categorization was used to test if visual attributes moderate semantic decisions by including both congruent and incongruent pairings with visual attributes. For instance, categorizing ‘scald’ in red font colour as hot (congruent) can be compared to ‘scald’ in blue font colour (incongruent), or ‘freeze’ in red font colour (incongruent) to determine if visual attributes (e.g., colour) automatically affect semantic decisions. Using the same stimuli, visual attribute categorization (e.g., categorizing ‘scald’ as red) was used to test if word meaning automatically affects perceptual decisions. Experiment 1 included mad (red congruent) and sad (blue congruent) emotion words, whereby semantic categorization revealed consistent congruency effects (i.e., shorter RTs and fewer errors with congruent trials than incongruent trials), but not with colour categorization. Experiment 2 extended these effects to the domain of temperature, including hot (red congruent) and cold (blue congruent) temperature words. Semantic categorization revealed consistent congruency effects on RT and errors, but not with colour naming. Experiment 3 extended Experiment 2 by including the neutral colour green. In semantic categorization, congruent pairs showed facilitation relative to neutral, and incongruent pairs showed interference relative to neutral, whereas only facilitation occurred with colour categorization for red-hot pairs. These results support the obligatory processing of visual attributes in semantic tasks, grounding abstract semantic meaning in colour processing. In the reverse direction, colour categorization tasks also showed semantic influences, although smaller and less consistently. Experiment 4 tested the generality of these effects in the visual domain of time processing. Congruent and incongruent pairs were generated by combining short durations and long durations with temporally associated words (e.g., ‘brief,’ ‘eternal’). Congruency effects occurred consistently on RTs and error rates for the duration categorization (revealing semantic influences), but only consistently on errors with semantic categorization. Thus, word meaning serves as the dominant attribute in the domain of time, indicating varying strengths of automaticity between visual attributes. These experiments explore the generality and boundary conditions of how visual attributes, like colour and time perception, and word meaning share representations, whereby asymmetries provide new evidence regarding the automatic direction of processing influences in these domains.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeLawson, Karen; Loehr, Janeen; Mickleborough, Marla; Mandrick, Reagen
Copyright DateJune 2016