Out of Mind, Out of Sight: Language Affects Perceptual Vividness in Memory
by Lisa Vandeberg, Anita Eerland, Rolf A. Zwaan
We examined whether language affects the strength of a visual representation in memory. Participants studied a picture, read a story about the depicted object, and then selected out of two pictures the one whose transparency level most resembled that of the previously presented picture. The stories contained two linguistic manipulations that have been demonstrated to affect concept availability in memory, i.e., object presence and goal-relevance. The results show that described absence of an object caused people to select the most transparent picture more often than described presence of the object. This effect was not moderated by goal-relevance, suggesting that our paradigm tapped into the perceptual quality of representations rather than, for example, their linguistic availability. We discuss the implications of these findings within a framework of grounded cognition.
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