Recognizing the directionality of an arrow affects subsequent judgments of a temporal statement: the role of directionality in spatial metaphors.
English speakers use horizontal spatial metaphors (e.g.,
before/after) to talk about time relative to vertical spatial metaphors
(e.g., up/down), so they may be faster in verifying temporal targets
(e.g., June comes after April) that are preceded by primes that activate
horizontal, relative to vertical, spatial metaphors. We examined this
horizontal bias by comparing the effect of horizontal versus vertical
arrows as primes on judging the validity of pure temporal targets (e.g.,
June is earlier/later than April) versus spatiotemporal targets (e.g.,
June comes before/after April). The horizontal bias occurred for both
types of targets, and participants were faster when the arrow direction
(e.g., right pointing; arrow flying from left to right) was congruent
with the meaning of relation words in the temporal targets (e.g.,
later--time flowing from the past to the future) than when it was
incongruent, consistent with the view of the left-past/right-future
representation of time.
Key words: priming, sentence comprehension, spatial metaphor, time
Metaphor (Psychological aspects)
Sentence structure (Psychological aspects)
|Publication:||Name: The Psychological Record Publisher: The Psychological Record Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 The Psychological Record ISSN: 0033-2933|
|Issue:||Date: Summer, 2012 Source Volume: 62 Source Issue: 3|
|Topic:||Event Code: 310 Science & research|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States|
Despite its nonspatial nature, temporal order is described in
spatial metaphors in many languages (e.g., Clark, 1973; Gibbs, 1996;
Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). As noted by Lakoff and Johnson (1980),
spatial and temporal events can be framed with an egomoving perspective
(e.g., the keyboard is in front of me; the summer is behind us) or an
object-or time-moving perspective (e.g., the computer screen is behind
the keyboard; winter is ahead of summer). In this paper, we report an
experiment that tested the influence of spatial metaphors, as activated
by a symbol like an arrow, on the understanding of temporal information.
We examined how the identification of the perceptual features of a
nonverbal prime (e.g., whether an arrow is pointing right or whether a
straight line is horizontal) activates spatial schema (e.g.,
and their analogous temporal schema (e.g., time flows horizontally) and,
in turn, affects English speakers' judgments regarding the validity
of a target statement that describes the temporal order of two months in
a time-moving perspective (e.g., June comes after April).
Investigating the psychological reality of spatial metaphors, Boroditsky (2000, 2001) showed that priming people to use a spatial schema (e.g., horizontality) facilitates activation of an analogous temporal schema and, in turn, affects the comprehension of temporal statements. In Boroditsky's (2001) paradigm, two spatial primes were followed by one temporal target, on each trial. The spatial prime included a pictorial display and a statement regarding the spatial relation for the display. After verifying two spatial primes that laid on the same (horizontal or vertical) axis, participants read a statement regarding the order of months with a spatiotemporal word (before or after) or a pure temporal word (earlier or later) and then judged the validity of this temporal target. Boroditsky found that English speakers were faster to verify both types of temporal targets when they were followed by two horizontal primes than when they were followed by two vertical primes (hereafter, horizontal bias). This suggests that these speakers are more likely to use horizontal, relative to vertical, spatial schema to understand the concept of time. More specifically, when judging whether an object is ahead of or above another in the spatial-prime display, the participants activated horizontal or vertical spatial schema. Because English speakers often use horizontal spatial metaphors (ahead, behind, front, or back) to describe temporal orders (e.g., the class is behind schedule), they are faster to comprehend temporal statements when the horizontal spatial schema, relative to the vertical spatial schema, is preactivated. (1)
However, evidence for English speakers' horizontal bias on the comprehension of temporal statements has been mixed. Some researchers failed to replicate Boroditsky's (2001) results even when using identical procedures (e.g., Chen, 2007; January & Kako, 2007; Tse & Altarriba, 2008; but see Boroditsky, Fuhrman, & McCormick, 2011). Using a modified version of Boroditsky's priming paradigm, the current study (a) re-examined whether English speakers would demonstrate horizontal bias, (b) tested whether the spatial metaphors have to be "directed" (left/right/up/down) in order to activate the temporal schema (and, in turn, affect participants' judgments), and (c) tested the recent left-past/right-future view of time representation for English speakers.
First, rather than having participants judge both primes and targets, our participants only saw a spatial prime (horizontal/vertical arrow or line) and then judged the validity of a target statement that was related to the directionality/orientation of the prime (spatial target) or to the temporal order of two months (temporal target). Following the logic proposed in Boroditsky (2000, 2001), the processing of spatial symbols (e.g., right-pointing arrows) could activate the spatial schema (e.g., right pointing) and, in turn, the analogous temporal schema (e.g., time flows horizontally). Hence, we expected participants to be faster in judging the temporal targets when the targets were followed by horizontal primes than by vertical primes (see below for further predictions made for the arrow- vs. line-prime conditions). By equating the proportion of true and false temporal targets followed by a vertical or horizontal prime (see Table 1), neither the orientation nor the directionality of the prime could inform the participants about the validity of the subsequent temporal targets. For instance, a right-pointing arrow as the spatial prime did not inform the participants whether they would respond "true" or "false" for the subsequent temporal target statement "June is after April." Regarding the type of temporal targets, as in Boroditsky (2001), we included spatiotemporal and pure temporal targets that involved the relation words beforelafter and earlier/later, respectively, to test whether the activated spatial representation would influence participants' comprehension of temporal targets even when these targets did not involve any spatial terms (i.e., pure temporal targets with earlier/later). Finally, apart from the temporal targets, we included spatial targets that were about the orientation/directionality of the prime (e.g., arrow pointing left) as a manipulation check, so that we could verify whether participants did fully process the spatial aspects of the primes.
Second, in previous studies, the spatial prime often involved a comparison of the relative orientation of two objects and relation words (e.g., ahead of or behind; Gentner, Imai, & Boroditsky, 2002). Such a design was not able to test whether spatial schema that did not involve object comparisons, for example, a pointing arrow (up/down/left/right) or a straight line (vertical/horizontal), would influence the comprehension of temporal statements. Moreover, in Boroditsky's (2001) paradigm, only horizontal, not vertical, spatial primes consisted of arrows, so her results did not tease apart the possible role of orientation versus directionality in English speakers' horizontal bias (see Boroditsky et al., 2011, for a similar view). To address these issues in the current study, half of the participants received the horizontal and vertical lines as spatial primes and the other half received the horizontal (left/right) and vertical (up/down) arrows as spatial primes. By comparing the effects of line and arrow primes on the judgment of temporal targets, we determined whether the activation of line orientation per se was sufficient, or whether arrow directionality has to be activated, to affect the comprehension of temporal targets. Because the spatial metaphors used by English speakers are inherently directed and horizontal (e.g., Lakoff & Johnson, 1980), we expected the horizontal bias to occur only when the spatial primes were arrows, not when they were lines.
Third, because Boroditsky (2000, 2001) did not separately report her horizontal bias as a function of arrow direction in the horizontal-prime condition, it is not clear whether her results were in line with the left-past/right-future view of time representation (e.g., Santiago, Lupialiez, Perez, & Funes, 2007; Santiago, Roman, Ouellet, Rodriguez, & Periz-Azor, 2010; Torralbo, Santiago, & Lupianez, 2006; Weger & Pratt, 2008). The design of the current study could help to evaluate this view. Consider the horizontal primes (i.e., left-/right-pointing arrow). If the right-pointing arrows could activate the meaning of "arrow flying from left to right," this spatial prime could speed up participants' validity judgments for the temporal statements that involve the meaning of later (e.g., June is later than April; time flowing from the past to the future), relative to those that involve the meaning of earlier (e.g., April is earlier than June; time flowing from the future back to the past). In contrast, if the left-pointing arrows could activate the meaning of "arrow flying from right to left," this spatial prime could speed up participants' validity judgments for the temporal statements that involve the meaning of earlier, relative to those that involve the meaning of later. In short, the left-past/right-future view of time representation could predict a crossover 2 (arrow direction in the spatial prime: left or right) x 2 (relation word in the temporal target: before/earlier or after/later) interaction. As previous studies (e.g., Boroditsky, 2000) showed that English speakers were more likely to use horizontal, rather than vertical, spatial metaphors to think about time, we predicted that the aforementioned crossover interaction, a 2 (arrow direction in the spatial prime: up or down) x 2 (relation word in the temporal target: before/earlier or after/later) interaction, would not occur when the primes are vertical arrows (i.e., up-/down-pointing arrow).
In summary, the goal of the current research was to test the influence of activated spatial relationships on English speakers' comprehension of temporal statements by using nonverbal primes that did not involve a comparison of two objects in a priming paradigm. By contrasting the effects of line and arrow primes, we teased apart the contributions of directionality and orientation on the horizontal bias. We further tested whether participants' judgments could be modulated by the congruency between the arrow-prime direction (e.g., right pointing) and the relation depicted in the temporal targets (e.g., later), casting light onto the role of directionality of spatial metaphors that could be activated by the arrow primes. Given that English speakers use horizontal spatial metaphors more often than vertical primes to talk about time, horizontal primes may speed up validity judgments of temporal statements. Following Boroditsky's (2001) findings that English speakers' showed horizontal bias regardless of whether the temporal statements involved pure temporal or spatiotemporal relation words, we did not expect that the bias induced by line or arrow primes, if any, would be different for the two types of temporal targets. These results would show that even when participants identify the perceptual features of a nonverbal stimulus, the meaning of spatial metaphors could still be activated and affect their comprehension of a temporal statement. If spatial metaphors used by English speakers are inherently directed and horizontal, we expected the horizontal bias to occur for arrow primes but not for line primes. Given the left-past/right-future view of time representation, we expected that arrow-group participants' judgments could be influenced jointly by arrow direction in the spatial primes and relation words in the temporal targets. While participants were faster to judge temporal targets with before/earlier relation words than those with after/later relation words when primed by left-pointing arrows, the pattern would be reversed when primed by right-pointing arrows.
Seventy-two undergraduates who were native English speakers participated in exchange for partial fulfillment of a course requirement. Because of high error rates (>30%), data were discarded from three additional participants. Half of the participants received line primes, and half received arrow primes. Signed informed consent was obtained from all participants at the beginning of the experiment.
Design and Materials
We used a Prime Bias (horizontal or vertical) x Prime Type (line or arrow) x Target Type (spatial, pure temporal, or spatiotemporal) mixed-factor design, with all but prime type being manipulated within participants. Each trial consisted of a prime display and a target display. All stimuli were presented at the center of the screen. For the prime display, a horizontal arrow was about 11 cm long and 2 cm high, whereas a vertical arrow was about 2 cm long and 11 cm high. The line within these arrows was about 0.2 cm thick. The horizontal and vertical lines were the same length and thickness as the horizontal and vertical arrows, respectively. For the target display, the statement in a spatial target was "Line is horizontal/vertical" when preceded by a line prime or "Arrow is pointing up/down/left/right" when preceded by an arrow prime. After a line/arrow prime, the example of the statement was "April comes earlier/later than June" for pure temporal targets or "June comes before/after April" for spatiotemporal targets. The two month words in the pure temporal and spatiotemporal targets were drawn from a combination of March, April, May, June, July, and August, with a constraint that the lag between the two months was either 0 (e.g., June-July) or 1 (e.g., May-July), yielding 18 combinations of month words in total. Each pair of month words appeared in the target display eight times, and each corresponded to one of the eight conditions for spatiotemporal/pure temporal targets (see Table 1). The presentation order of these eight instances (for each pair of month words) was randomized in the six blocks of experimental trials. The false targets were created by reversing the relation (e.g., from above to below) in the true targets. The prime-target trials with horizontal and vertical primes and spatial, pure temporal, and spatiotemporal targets were randomly intermixed. All directional (up/down and below/above) and orientation relation words (horizontal/vertical) and temporal relation words (earlier/later and before/after) were used equally often. The arrow primes pointed up versus down and left versus right equally often. The participants received 12 practice trials similar to the actual trials at the beginning of the experiment.
PC-compatible computers with E-Prime were used to display stimuli and collect reaction time (RT) and error data. Participants were individually tested in a quiet cubicle. All stimuli were presented one at a time on a white background, at the center of the screen. Each trial started with a 500-ms fixation point, (i.e., "+"). The prime then appeared for 1,000 ms. (Based on our pilot data, we used this stimulus-onset asynchrony to make sure participants could recognize the stimuli.) Those who received the line (or arrow) primes were instructed to remember the orientation of the line (or pointing direction of the arrow) in the prime for the subsequent target. (Because true and false temporal targets were equally likely to be followed by a vertical or horizontal prime [see Table 11, and prime in and of itself did not inform the participant about the validity of the subsequent temporal target, when participants saw the prime, they were not able [and thus had no incentive] to predict their responses for the subsequent possible temporal target.) Immediately after the prime offset, a target appeared for 5,000 ms. Half of the participants verified the target as quickly and as accurately as possible by pressing the "z" (false) or "/" (true) keys on a keyboard within a 5-s deadline. For the other half, the key assignment was reversed. This key assignment factor did not interact with any other variable. Participants received accuracy feedback ("correct" or "incorrect") that served to minimize their excessive errors. If their RTs were longer than 5 s, a visual warning signal ("too slow") appeared.
Only responses for the experimental trials were analyzed. In the RT analyses, we excluded RTs if responses were incorrect or if they exceeded the 5-s deadline (i.e., about 0.3% and 0.2% of responses for the line-and arrow-prime groups, respectively). To correct for a skewed pattern of RT distribution for the remaining responses so as to fulfill the normality assumption, rather than trimming the data, we used log-transformed RTs, which are normally distributed, in the following analyses. As indicated by nonsignificant correlations between participants' overall RTs and errors (r = +.09) and between the RT and error vertical-horizontal differences for temporal targets (r = +.05) and for spatial targets (r = -.03), the interpretation of our results was not complicated by any speed-accuracy tradeoffs. Table 2 presents the cell means in raw RTs and errors in all conditions. We submitted participants' log-transformed mean RTs and raw mean errors separately to a 2 (prime bias: vertical or horizontal) x 2 (prime type: line or arrow) x 3 (target type: spatial, pure temporal, or spatiotemporal) mixed-factor analysis of variance (ANOVA). The level of significance was set at .0S. We performed similar ANOVAs by including the validity of target statements as a within-subject factor (see Table 1). Its main effect was significant in RTs and errors, Fs > 7.01, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2]s > .12, ps < .01, showing that participants were faster and more accurate for true targets than for false targets. However, no interaction associated with this factor was significant, so this factor was not considered any further.
For errors, the main effects of target type and prime bias and their interaction were significant, F(2, 140) = 20.39, MSE = 22.86, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .23, p < .0001; F(1, 70) = 4.70, MSE = 11.69, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .06, p < .05; and F(2, 140) = 7.32, MSE = 14.82, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .10, p < .001, respectively. The main effect of target type showed that participants made fewer errors for spatial targets (4.8%) than for pure temporal targets (7.5%), t(71) = 4.98, p < .0001, and spatiotemporal targets (8.2%), t(71) = 6.21, p < .0001, although the latter two did not differ, t(71) = 1.05, ns. The main effect of prime bias showed that participants made fewer errors for targets primed by vertical primes (6.5%) than for those primed by horizontal primes (7.2%). Finally, regarding the Target Type x Prime Bias interaction, the simple main effect of prime bias was significant for spatial targets, t(71) = 4.91, p < .0001, but not for pure temporal, t(71) = .26, ns, or spatiotemporal targets, t(71) = .61, ns. As shown in Table 2, the vertical bias in errors (more accurate to vertically, relative to horizontally, primed targets) was significant for spatial targets but not for temporal targets. None of the other main effects or interactions was significant.
For RTs, there were significant main effects of prime type, prime bias, and target type, and the Prime Bias x Target Type interaction, F(1, 70) = 5.43, MSE = .04, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .07, p < .05; F(1, 70) = 21.93, MSE = .0003, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .24, p < .01; F(2, 140) = 1598.87, MSE = .002, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .96, p < .01; and F(2, 140) = 35.86, MSE = .0003, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .34, p < .01, respectively. The main effect of prime bias showed that participants responded faster to targets primed by vertical primes (1,531 ms) than to those primed by horizontal primes (1,544 ms). The main effect of prime type showed that participants responded faster to targets primed by line primes (1,457 ms) than to those primed by arrow primes (1,617 ms). The main effect of target type showed that participants responded faster to targets primed for spatial targets (1,003 ms) than to those primed for pure temporal targets (1,841 ms), t(71) = 40,67, p < .0001, and for spatiotemporal targets (1,768 ms), t(71) = 41.31, p < .0001. Their RTs were also significantly different in the latter two conditions, t(71) = 7.72, p < .0001. The Prime Bias x Target Type interaction showed that after collapsing across the participants who received lines and arrows as primes, the RTs for spatial targets were faster after they were followed by vertical primes (970 ms) than after they were followed by horizontal primes (1,036 rns), t(71) = 7.10, p < .0001, whereas the vertical versus horizontal difference was not significant for pure temporal targets (1,847 ms vs. 1,835 ms), t(71) =1.20, ns, or spatiotemporal targets (1,776 ms vs. 1,761 ms), t(71) = 1.40, ns. However, the Prime Bias x Target Type interaction was further modulated by prime type, F(2, 140) = 6.88, MSE = .0003, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .09, p < .01. None of the other interactions approached significance. To follow up this three-way interaction, we conducted a 2 (prime bias) x 3 (target type) repeated-measures ANOVA for the line-and arrow-prime groups. The Prime Bias x Target Type interaction was significant for both arrow-prime, F(2, 70) = 45.65, MSE = .0003, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .57, p < .01, and line-prime groups, F(2, 70) = 4.80, MSE = .0004, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .12, p < .05. The arrow-prime group showed a horizontal bias (faster for horizontally than for vertically primed targets) for both spatiotemporal and pure temporal targets, t(35) = 2.73, p < .05, and t(35) = 2.47, p < .05, (2) but a vertical bias (faster for vertically than for horizontally primed targets) for spatial targets, t(35) = 7.60, p < .01, whereas the line-prime group showed a vertical bias for spatial targets, t(35) = 3.26, p < .01, but not for spatiotemporal or pure temporal targets, t(35) = .36, ns, and t(35) = 1.24, ns. Despite not being the focus of the current research, the vertical bias for spatial targets was consistent with earlier visual perception findings (e.g., Standing, Conezio, & Haber, 1970) that the vertical axis has an advantage in perceptual processing over the horizontal axis.
Because the -43 ms versus -90 ms vertical bias difference on spatial targets for line-versus arrow-prime groups was significant, F(1, 70) = 4.67, MSE = .001, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .06, p < .05, one could argue that the arrow-prime group might be more sensitive than the line-prime group to the directionality as well as to the orientation of spatial primes. This sampling difference could partially account for the findings for temporal targets. To test if the pattern of horizontal bias on temporal targets remained the same after taking into account participants' efficiency in processing the spatial primes, as indirectly reflected by RTs and vertical bias for spatial targets, we reanalyzed the data for temporal targets after controlling for (a) the RTs of vertically and horizontally primed spatial targets, and (b) the RT difference between vertically and horizontally primed spatial targets. The results were clear. The Prime Type x Prime Bias interaction remained significant regardless of whether the RTs of vertically and horizontally primed spatial targets, F(1, 68) = 5.40, MSE = .0002, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .07, p < .05, or the RT difference between vertically and horizontally primed spatial targets, F(1, 69) = 8.63, MSE = .0002, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .11, p < .01, were partialed out. None of these interactions was further associated with target type (all Fs < 1), indicating that the interactive effect of prime bias and prime type was similar for spatiotemporal and pure temporal targets.
To test the effect of directionality (i.e., left/right/up/down) of spatial primes on the comprehension of temporal statements, we examined the horizontal bias for temporal targets in the arrow-prime group as a function of arrow direction and the relation words in the temporal targets. Because the relation words before/earlier and after/later are associated with the meaning of "flowing from the future back to the past" and "flowing from the past to the future," we expected that when the prime was a left-pointing arrow, participants would be faster to judge the temporal targets with before/earlier relation words than those with after/later relation words. This pattern would be reversed when the prime was a right-pointing arrow. Given that English speakers could represent time horizontally, rather than vertically, we predicted that participants' RTs would not be affected by the type of relation words in the temporal targets when the prime was a vertical (up-/down-pointing) arrow. To test these, we submitted arrow-group participants' log-transformed mean RTs to a 2 (arrow direction: left or right) x 2 (relation word: before/earlier or after/later) x 2 (target type: pure temporal or spatiotemporal) mixed-factor ANOVA for horizontal-prime data and to a 2 (arrow direction: up or down) x 2 (relation word) x 2 (target type) mixed-factor ANOVA for vertical-prime data. Critically, the Relation Word x Arrow Direction interaction was significant when arrow primes were horizontal, F(1, 35) = 4.88, MSE = .001, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .12, p < .05, but not when they were vertical, F(1, 35) = .91, MSE = .001, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .03, ns. These interactions were not further modulated by target type (all Fs < 2.81). The participants were 51 ms faster to judge the temporal targets with before/earlier relation words than they were to judge those with after/later relation words for left-pointing arrows, but they were 28 ms faster to judge the temporal targets with after/later relation words than they were to judge those with before/earlier relation words for right-pointing arrows, thereby supporting the left-past/right-future view of time representation. Similar analyses conducted on error data did not yield any significant interaction associated with relation word and arrow direction.
Finally, participants' judgments could also be facilitated when response mapping and word position are congruent with the left-past/right-future view of time representation. This is analogous to the findings in spatial-numerical association of response code studies (e.g., Tse, 2008; Tse & Altarriba, 2010). Given that month stimuli are intrinsically ordered, there are associations of earlier months with the left side of space and later months with the right side of space (e.g., Gevers, Reynvoet, & Fias, 2004). To test this possibility, we computed the log-transformed mean RTs for the temporal targets in which the month words in the subject and object positions were congruent (e.g., April comes before June) versus incongruent (e.g., June comes after April) with the left-past/right-future view of time representation. Averaged across other variables (e.g., prime type), the RTs were, in fact, 19 ms faster for congruent trials than for incongruent trials, F(1, 70) = 4.24, MSE = .0002, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .06, p < .05, further supporting the left-past/right-future view of time representation.
We used a modified priming paradigm (Boroditsky, 2001) to investigate English speakers' horizontal bias (i.e., faster at verifying temporal statements that were preceded by a horizontal prime vs. a vertical prime), with nonverbal primes that did not involve a comparison of two objects (lines and arrows), and by having participants see, rather than respond to, the spatial prime. We teased apart the effects of directionality and orientation on horizontal bias by using arrow versus line primes and further tested whether participants' judgments could be modulated by the congruency between the arrow-prime direction (e.g., right pointing) and the relation depicted in temporal targets (e.g., later). The findings are straightforward. First, participants showed a horizontal bias, suggesting that English speakers think about time horizontally versus vertically. Second, such bias was absent when the prime was a horizontal or vertical line, showing that a spatial schema was activated when arrow direction, but not line orientation, was judged. Hence, the representation of time could not be primed with a simple orientation prime. Third, those who received arrow primes were faster when the arrow direction (e.g., left pointing) was congruent with the meaning of relation words in the temporal targets (e.g., earlier) than when it was not, supporting the left-past/right-future view of time representation (e.g., Santiago et al., 2007).
Given that we counterbalanced prime-target pairs such that seeing a specific spatial prime was not predictive of a subsequent temporal target, the encoding of the arrow direction should never be relevant to the judgment of a subsequent temporal target. Despite the irrelevance of task demands on judging temporal targets, activating spatial schema could still affect the validation of a temporal target, suggesting that the influence of spatial schema was obligatory in temporal statement comprehension. This result echoed the previous findings that the mapping between spatial location (front or back) and temporal order (future or past) occurred even when spatial features were irrelevant task demands. Torralbo et al. (2006) reported that participants were faster to respond with "future" to classify the meaning of a temporal word (e.g., tomorrow) that appeared in front of, rather than at the back of, a silhouette of a person on a screen. Casasanto and Boroditsky (2008; see also Casasanto, 2009) showed that participants were influenced by irrelevant spatial information when making judgments about duration, but not the converse. For instance, the estimated duration of a growing line was positively correlated with the extent to which it had actually been displaced. Thus, spatial schemata can be obligatorily activated when one thinks about time-related concepts, even when this would hurt performance. Fuhrman and Boroditsky (2010; see also Ouellet, Santiago, Funes, & Lupianez, 2010; Ouellet, Santiago, Israeli, & Gabay, 2010; Tversky, Kugelmass, & Winter, 1991) reported that participants accessed cultural-specific spatial representations obligatorily even when they made temporal judgments in nonlinguistic tasks. They found that one's spatial representation could be shaped by his or her writing directions. In the current study, we also demonstrated the obligatory nature of accessing the meaning of space-time metaphors even when participants encoded the orientation/direction of a single arrow.
In conclusion, the current study is the first to demonstrate that it is directionality rather than orientation that results in horizontal bias in English speakers. In addition, we provided further evidence for the left-past/right-future view of time representation. This arrow-priming paradigm should open a new avenue for future research on the obligatory nature of the activation of spatial metaphors on influencing the understanding of temporal information, for example, by instructing participants to pay attention to arrow orientation (e.g., to identify if the arrow prime was horizontal or vertical) and testing whether directionality could show an obligatory effect on the comprehension of temporal statements.
We thank Richard Ferraro, Mike Masson, Marc Ouellet, Jay Pratt, and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments on earlier versions of this manuscript and Rebekah Feinman and Jessica Peressini for their assistance with data collection.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Chi-Shing Tse, Department of Educational Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, New Territories, Hong Kong, China. Email: email@example.com
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(1) Spatial schematic activation is not necessary when thinking about time since the judgment of a temporal statement could also be facilitated by the preceding judgment of another temporal statement (e.g., Boroditsky, 2000). In the current study, we did not test if a spatial schema had to be activated when thinking about time, nor did we test if the domains of space and time shared an asymmetric relational structure, such that space-related language can be useful for thinking about time, but not vice versa.
(2) One could examine whether the lag between the two months in the temporal targets (e.g., 0 in May-June vs. 1 in April-June) could modulate the horizontal bias. Research on symbolic distance effects (see, e.g., Santiago et al., 2010) may suggest that it is easier to judge the validity of temporal statements when the two months are further apart: We reanalyzed the temporal-target data by including the month lag as a within-subject factor. The main effect of lag was significant for RTs (25 ms), F(1, 70) = 7.47, MSE = .0002, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .10, p < .01, and errors (2.1%), F(1, 70) = 20.88, MSE = 31.49, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .23, p < .0001, replicating the typical symbolic distance effect. For errors, the Target Type x Lag interaction was significant, F(1, 70) = 8.26, MSE = 29.87, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .11, p < .01, suggesting that the lag effect was stronger for spatiotemporal targets (3.4%), t(71) = 5.34, p < .0001, than for pure temporal targets (0.8%), t(71) = 1.27, ns. None of the other interactions associated with lag in RTs or errors was significant. The horizontal bias was not modulated by the month lag in the temporal statements, although this finding should be interpreted with caution because the month lag was somewhat narrow (either 0 or 1) in the current study.
Chi-Shing Tse The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Jeanette Altarriba University at Albany, State University of New York
Table 1 Number of Prime-Target Pairs in Each Condition Prime bias Validity of Target type Number target of statements trials x 6 blocks (a) Vertical True Spatial 6 x 6=36 Horizontal True Spatial 6 x 6=36 Vertical False Spatial 6 x 6=36 Horizontal False Spatial 6 x 6=36 Vertical True Pure temporal 3 x 6=18 Horizontal True Pure temporal 3 x 6=18 Vertical False Pure temporal 3 x 6=18 Horizontal False Pure temporal 3 x 6=18 Vertical True Spatiotemporal 3 x 6=18 Horizontal True Spatiotemporal 3 x 6=18 Vertical False Spatiotemporal 3 x 6=18 Horizontal False Spatiotemporal 3 x 6=18 (a) Total = 288.
Table 2 Mean RTs and Errors for Spatial, Pure Temporal, and Spatiotemporal Targets Following a Horizontal/Vertical Spatial Prime as a Function of Line and Arrow Primes Prime bias Prime type Target type Vertical Horizontal Difference RT (a) Line Spatial 913 956 -43 * Pure temporal 1,746 1,759 -13 Spatiotemporal 1,682 1,687 -5 Arrow Spatial 1,026 1,116 -90 * Pure temporal 1,947 1,910 +37 * Spatiotemporal 1,870 1,834 +36 * Error (b) Line Spatial 4.5 6.8 -2.3 * Pure temporal 8.0 8.2 0.2 Spatiotemporal 909 8.5 +1.4 Arrow Spatial 2.4 5.5 -3.1 * Pure temporal 7.2 6.7 +0.5 Spatiotemporal 6.8 7.4 -0.6 Note. RT = response time. Difference = (RTs or errors for vertically primed targets)-(RTs or errors for horizontally primed targets). (a) In ms. (b) In percentages. * p < .05.
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