Scholars studying the origins and evolution of language are also interested in the general issue of the evolution of cognition. Language is not an isolated capability of the individual, but has intrinsic relationships with many other behavioral, cognitive, and social abilities. By understanding the mechanisms underlying the evolution of linguistic abilities, it is possible to understand the evolution of cognitive abilities. Cognitivism, one of the current approaches in psychology and cognitive science, proposes that symbol systems capture mental phenomena, and attributes (...) cognitive validity to them. Therefore, in the same way that language is considered the prototype of cognitive abilities, a symbol system has become the prototype for studying language and cognitive systems. Symbol systems are advantageous as they are easily studied through computer simulation (a computer program is a symbol system itself), and this is why language is often studied using computational models. (shrink)
The basic problem of this investigation concerns how is it that an individual "understands" or "comprehends" what another communicates and, sometimes, even what he does not communicate but of which he has experience. We would like here to take stock of the models that psychology currently has available to study the phenomenon of interpersonal understanding,using a cognitive approach, and to propose some working hypotheses that in our opinion could guide further research.
The problem discussed in this paper arises from the observation that in the course of inter-subjective communication "understanding" seems to be entrusted to the implementation of a real process, not only affective but also cognitive, of processing information contained in the perceived behavior. In a previous study (Greco, 1979) we proposed to consider this process of "reconstruction" of meaning as analogous to the process of "construction" used for oneself. Here we will deal with this process of construction or awareness using (...) theoretical models offered by experimental research. (shrink)
Starting from some remarks about the use of models in psychology, Human Information Processing (henceforth called H.I.P.) models which sometimes use computer simulation will be examined. An attempt to show that simulation in psychology does not necessarily imply an H.I.P. approach is then made.
According to the Common Ground account proposed by Stalnaker, speakers involved in a verbal interaction have different propositional attitudes towards presuppositions. In this paper we propose an experimental study aimed at estimating the psychological plausibility of the Stalnakerian model. In particular, the goal of our experiment is to evaluate variations in accepting as appropriate a sentence that triggers a presupposition, where different attitudes are taken towards the presupposition required. The study conducted suggests that if a speaker has the attitude of (...) belief towards the content of a presupposition, she may evaluate an utterance as more appropriate in a shorter time than in cases where she holds an attitude of presumption or of assumption. Therefore, data collected support the psychological soundness of what might be considered the main, but also most debated, theory of presupposition on the market. (shrink)
The Action-sentence Compatibility Effect is often taken as supporting the fundamental role of the motor system in understanding sentences that describe actions. This effect would be related to an internal “simulation,” i.e., the reactivation of past perceptual and motor experiences. However, it is not easy to establish whether this simulation predominantly involves spatial imagery or motor anticipation. In the classical ACE experiments, where a real motor response is required, the direction and motor representations are mixed. In order to disentangle spatial (...) and motor aspects involved in the ACE, we performed six experiments in different conditions, where the motor component was always reduced, asking participants to judge the sensibility of sentences by moving a mouse, thus requiring a purely spatial representation, compatible with nonmotor interpretations. In addition, our experiments had the purpose of taking into account the possible confusion of effects of practice and of compatibility. Also, in contrast to the usual paradigm, we included no-transfer filler sentences in the analysis. The ACE was not found in any experiment, a result that failed to support the idea that the ACE could be related to a simulation where spatial aspects rather than motor ones prevail. Strong practice effects were always found and were carved out from results. A surprising effect was that no-transfer sentences were processed much slower than others, perhaps revealing a sort of participants’ awareness of the structure of stimuli, i.e., their finding that some of them involved motion and others did not. The relevance of these outcomes for the embodiment theory is discussed. (shrink)