Cross-Cultural Differences in Mental Representations of Time: Evidence From an Implicit Nonlinguistic Task
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Cognitive Science 34 (8):1430-1451 (2010)
Across cultures people construct spatial representations of time. However, the particular spatial layouts created to represent time may differ across cultures. This paper examines whether people automatically access and use culturally specific spatial representations when reasoning about time. In Experiment 1, we asked Hebrew and English speakers to arrange pictures depicting temporal sequences of natural events, and to point to the hypothesized location of events relative to a reference point. In both tasks, English speakers (who read left to right) arranged temporal sequences to progress from left to right, whereas Hebrew speakers (who read right to left) arranged them from right to left, replicating previous work. In Experiments 2 and 3, we asked the participants to make rapid temporal order judgments about pairs of pictures presented one after the other (i.e., to decide whether the second picture showed a conceptually earlier or later time-point of an event than the first picture). Participants made responses using two adjacent keyboard keys. English speakers were faster to make “earlier” judgments when the “earlier” response needed to be made with the left response key than with the right response key. Hebrew speakers showed exactly the reverse pattern. Asking participants to use a space-time mapping inconsistent with the one suggested by writing direction in their language created interference, suggesting that participants were automatically creating writing-direction consistent spatial representations in the course of their normal temporal reasoning. It appears that people automatically access culturally specific spatial representations when making temporal judgments even in nonlinguistic tasks
|Keywords||Time Writing direction Language Culture Space|
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Citations of this work BETA
Rafael Núñez & Kensy Cooperrider (2013). The Tangle of Space and Time in Human Cognition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 17 (5):220-229.
Lera Boroditsky, Orly Fuhrman & Kelly McCormick (2011). Do English and Mandarin Speakers Think About Time Differently? Cognition 118 (1):123-129.
Rafael Núñez, Kensy Cooperrider, D. Doan & Jürg Wassmann (2012). Contours of Time: Topographic Construals of Past, Present, and Future in the Yupno Valley of Papua New Guinea. Cognition 124 (1):25-35.
Andrea Bender & Sieghard Beller (2014). Mapping Spatial Frames of Reference Onto Time: A Review of Theoretical Accounts and Empirical Findings. [REVIEW] Cognition 132 (3):342-382.
Andriy Myachykov, Christoph Scheepers, Martin H. Fischer & Klaus Kessler (2014). TEST: A Tropic, Embodied, and Situated Theory of Cognition. Topics in Cognitive Science 6 (3):442-460.
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