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Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research 3/2019

02-08-2017 | Original Article

Do I need to have my hands free to understand hand-related language? Investigating the functional relevance of experiential simulations

Auteurs: Jessica Vanessa Strozyk, Carolin Dudschig, Barbara Kaup

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 3/2019

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Abstract

Theories of embodiment state that people mentally simulate the described situations and events during language comprehension. While several studies have provided evidence that these simulations exist, it is still unclear whether they are functionally relevant for comprehension. To investigate this question, we studied the effects of a secondary task on the processing of hand- and foot-related nouns. The secondary task occupied either the hand or the foot system, thereby impeding hand- or foot-related simulations, respectively. Participants performed a lexical decision task by responding to the presented nouns with their left hand or foot, depending on the color of the words, while withholding their response to pseudowords. In half of the experimental blocks, participants performed a simultaneous tapping task with their right hand (Experiment 1) or foot (Experiment 2). If simulations are functionally relevant for comprehension, the secondary task should affect the processing of hand words to a larger degree than the processing foot words in Experiment 1 and vice versa in Experiment 2. In both experiments, hand responses were faster for hand words than foot words, whereas the opposite was true for foot responses. This finding indicates that participants indeed simulated the words’ meanings. Importantly, there was no difference between the influence of the hand tapping and the foot tapping task on lexical decision times to hand and foot words, indicating that experiential simulation might just be an optional by-product of language processing.

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Voetnoten
1
Due to our balancing conditions (see below), we had 16 experimental versions, so the final sample size had to be a multiple of 16.
 
2
There was no speed-accuracy tradeoff in the data, since the accuracy rates overall mirrored the pattern of results. There was a significant compatibility effect, F1(1, 31) = 73.48, p < .001, η p 2  = .70, F2(1, 60) = 136.07, p < .001, η p 2  = .69, with higher accuracy for hand than foot words when responding with the hand, and higher accuracy for foot than hand words when responding with the foot. Despite a significant interaction with explicity, F1(1, 31) = 7.84, p = .009, η p 2  = .20, F2(1, 60) = 7.06, p = .010, η p 2  = .10, this pattern was found for both explicit and implicit nouns. However, the interaction between word effector and task condition was not significant, F1 < 1, F2 < 1.
 
3
We did not have a completed handedness inventory for five of the participants; however, all of them reported to be right-handed when asked directly.
 
4
There was a significant compatibility effect for accuracy rates, F1(1, 31) = 42.17, p < .001, η p 2  = .58, F2(1, 60) = 94.33, p < .001, η p 2  = .61, with higher accuracy for hand than foot words when responding with the hand and higher accuracy for foot than hand words when responding with the foot. This pattern was found for explicit and implicit nouns despite a significant interaction with the factor explicity, F1(1, 31) = 8.44, p = .007, η p 2  = .21, F2(1, 60) = 6.43, p = .014, η p 2  = .10. The interaction between word effector and task condition was not significant, F1 < 1, F2 < 1. These results show, that the reaction time data cannot be explained by a speed-accuracy tradeoff.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Do I need to have my hands free to understand hand-related language? Investigating the functional relevance of experiential simulations
Auteurs
Jessica Vanessa Strozyk
Carolin Dudschig
Barbara Kaup
Publicatiedatum
02-08-2017
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 3/2019
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-017-0900-8