ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (11): 1671-1681.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.01671

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The Spatial Metaphor of Bilingual Affective Concepts Processing

SHEN Manqiong1; XIE Jiushu1,2; ZHANG Kun1; Li Ying1; ZENG Chuxuan1; WANG Ruiming1   

  1. (1 Center for Studies of Psychological Application/School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China) (2 Department of Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong 999077, China)
  • Received:2013-12-30 Published:2014-11-25 Online:2014-11-25
  • Contact: WANG Ruiming, E-mail:


Propositional Symbol Systems and Perceptual Symbol Systems hold different opinions on conceptual processing. Propositional Symbol Systems believe that conceptual processing does not have direct links with sensory experiences, while Perceptual Symbol Systems propose that conceptual processing is grounded in sensory experiences, especially in the spatial experience. In our experiments, a modified spatial cueing paradigm was used to test the metaphorical concurrency effect of bilingual affective concepts in mono- and cross- channel conditions. In Experiment 1, thirty-two Chinese-English bilinguals finished a spatial cueing task after keeping an affective word in mind in mono-channel condition. Affective words and spatial cues were all presented by display. Participants needed to judge valences of affective words at the end of each trial. Results showed that the metaphorical concurrency effect existed in the vertical dimension, but not in the horizontal dimension. Another forty Chinese-English bilinguals participated in Experiment 2, who finished the same task as Experiment 1 except that affective words were presented by headphone. Results showed that the metaphorical concurrency effect was also found in the cross-channel condition. In summary, the metaphorical concurrency effect exists in processing bilingual affective words. This effect is stronger in the vertical dimension than the horizontal dimension. Further, the metaphorical concurrency effect exists in the cross-channel condition indicating that speech perception for bilingual affective concepts activates cross-channel sensory information. More importantly, the metaphorical concurrency effect is influenced by acquired experiences (i.e., the second language). Hence, these results support the Perceptual Symbol Systems.

Key words: embodied cognition, conceptual metaphor theory, affective concepts, conceptual representation, perceptual symbol systems