ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2020, Vol. 52 ›› Issue (2): 128-138.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.00128

• 研究报告 • 上一篇    下一篇


王汉林, 蒋泽亮, 冯晓慧, 鲁忠义()   

  1. 河北师范大学教育学院, 石家庄 050024
  • 收稿日期:2019-04-02 出版日期:2020-02-25 发布日期:2019-12-24
  • 通讯作者: 鲁忠义
  • 基金资助:
    * 河北省社会科学基金项目(HB18JY042)

Spatial iconicity of moral concepts: Co-dependence of linguistic and embodied symbols

WANG Hanlin, JIANG Zeliang, FENG Xiaohui, LU Zhongyi()   

  1. College of Education, Hebei Normal University, Shijiazhuang 050024, China
  • Received:2019-04-02 Online:2020-02-25 Published:2019-12-24
  • Contact: LU Zhongyi


采用事件相关电位(ERP)技术探讨抽象道德概念的空间形象性效应, 以及语言因素和具身因素对该效应的影响机制及其加工进程。实验1检验词对空间位置对道德词对语义判断(反义程度)所产生的影响, 结果表明不符合空间形象性呈现条件(即道德-下, 不道德-上)诱发了较大的N400, 并且词对语义判断的反应时较长; 实验2检验词对语义的反义程度对道德词对空间形象性判断所产生的影响, 结果表明语义无关词对诱发了较大的N200和N700, 并且词对空间形象性判断的反应时较长。研究结果表明, 抽象道德概念的加工能够表现出空间形象性效应, 该效应由语言因素和具身因素共同塑造, 前者在概念加工过程中优先被激活并发挥持久影响, 后者仅在概念加工的中期发挥作用。

关键词: 道德概念, 空间形象性, 具身认知, 语言符号, 垂直空间隐喻


Spatial iconicity is described as the perceptual characteristic of a concrete concept. This idea demonstrates that word pairs are processed faster when their positions match certain references in the physical world (e.g. ‘heaven’ is presented above ‘ground’). Embodied cognition theory explains that spatial iconicity involves processing concrete words to activate their embodied symbols automatically (e.g. spatial and colour symbols). This process then simulates the perceptual characteristics of the words’ physical reference. Symbolic theory proposes that spatial iconicity can also be interpreted by linguistic factors (e.g. word order frequency). Word order frequency is higher in the iconic order than in the reverse-iconic order, which facilitates the processing of word pairs. Symbol interdependency hypothesis integrates the two explanations above, claiming that the embodied and linguistic symbols are involved in shaping spatial iconicity. Furthermore, the respective contributions of these symbols depend on the type of stimuli or task. Despite these claims, the mechanism of spatial iconicity remains controversial. Moreover, whether abstract concepts have a similar spatial iconic effect is still unknown.

In Experiment 1, a semantic relationship judgment task was conducted to investigate the effect of embodied symbols on the processing of moral word pairs. Twenty-six participants were chosen randomly to discriminate the antonymous relationship of the moral word pairs in an iconic (e.g. moral-up & immoral-down) or reverse-iconic (e.g. moral-down & immoral-up) arrangement. In Experiment 2, a spatial iconicity judgment task was conducted to investigate the effect of linguistic symbols on the processing of moral word pairs. Twenty-seven participants were chosen to distinguish the iconicity of the moral word pairs, which may belong to an antonym or not. The EEG signals and the reaction times during both experiments were recorded.

The results showed that when Chinese moral antonyms were arranged against their spatial iconicity (e.g. moral-down & immoral-up), the processing of the antonymous relationship induced a larger N400 than the arrangement that was coherent with the spatial iconicity (e.g. moral-up & immoral-down). Furthermore, the judgment of the antonymous relationship was slower for the antonym pairs in a reverse-iconic arrangement than in an iconic arrangement. The results also showed that the Chinese word pairs, which did not have antonyms (e.g. trust - evil), induced a larger N200 and N700 than the antonym pairs (e.g. incorrupt - corrupt) did. Moreover, the reaction time of the iconicity judgment to the word pairs that did not belong to antonyms was slower than that of the antonym pairs. The results of the two experiments revealed that regardless of the task, the embodied and linguistic symbols contributed to spatial iconicity. Nevertheless, the mechanisms of the two symbols were different.

This study explored the spatial iconicity of abstract moral concepts, the roles of the embodied symbols and the linguistic symbols in shaping spatial iconicity. The results showed that (1) abstract moral concepts had a similar spatial iconicity to concrete concepts, which could be achieved by mapping the metaphors. (2) Furthermore, embodied and linguistic symbols were involved in shaping spatial iconicity regardless of the task. (3) When processing moral words, the linguistic symbols were activated to influence the process. The embodied symbols would only be activated and take effect in the middle of the process.

Key words: morality, spatial iconicity, embodied cognition, linguistic symbol, vertical metaphor