Dissertation, Northumbria University (2018)

Abstract
concepts cannot be directly perceived through senses. How do people represent abstract concepts in their minds? According to the Conceptual Metaphor Theory, people tend to rely on concrete experiences to understand abstract concepts. For instance, cognitive science has shown that time is a metaphorically constituted conception, understood relative to concepts like space. Across many languages, the “past” is associated with the “back” and the “future” is associated with the “front”. However, space-time mappings in people’s spoken metaphors are not always consistent with the implicit mental metaphors they are using to conceptualize time in their minds, suggesting a dissociation between temporal language and temporal thought. Beyond the influences of language, the Temporal Focus Hypothesis proposes that people’s spatial conceptions of time are shaped by their attentional focus on temporal events. In general, people conceptualize the past as being in front to the extent that their culture is past-oriented, and the future as being in front to the extent that their culture is future-oriented. Recent lines of research have provided preliminary evidence that people’s implicit space-time mappings are malleable and likely result from multiple factors related to temporal focus, ranging from those relating to contextual features, such as cultural attitudes toward time, to those more tightly tied to the individual, such as age-related differences. By building upon and extending these findings, the overall aim of this thesis is to ascertain the generalizability of the Temporal Focus Hypothesis and further investigate the range of factors that may influence people’s spatializations of time, focusing specifically on previously unexplored within-cultural differences, political ideology, religion, real life experiences, pregnancy, temporal landmarks, circadian rhythms and chronotype, and personality. Together, these studies demonstrate that people’s implicit space-time mappings may vary according to their temporal focus, which can be explained by the Temporal Focus Hypothesis. The findings of these studies also shed new light on the Temporal Focus Hypothesis by extending the range of factors that may influence people’s conceptions of time, and reveal the malleability and flexibility of time representations.
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References found in this work BETA

Doing Without Concepts.Edouard Machery - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
Perceptual Symbol Systems.Lawrence W. Barsalou - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (4):577-660.
Metaphors We Live By.Max Black - 1980 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 40 (2):208-210.

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