Caterina Villani, Luisa Lugli, Marco Tullio Liuzza, Anna M. Borghi

Different kinds of abstract concept

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Abstract Concepts; Embodied and Grounded Cognition; Categorization.

To explain how abstract concepts, like "truth", are represented is pivotal for embodied and grounded theories, according to which concepts are grounded in sensorimotor system. An important novelty in recent literature is the recognition that abstract concepts are not a unitary whole, but there might exist sub-kinds of abstract concepts, that are differently represented. Some studies have started to explore the differences between abstract concepts, such as mathematical, emotional, institutional and social concepts. However, an accurate classification has not yet been provided. The aim of our work is to identify fine-grained differences between abstract concepts. We selected 425 abstract words and classified them into preexisting and new categories of concepts: mathematical and logic, social, linguistics, institutional, temporal, spatial, mental states, characteristics of the self, events, pure abstract, imaginary, knowledge areas, cognitive processes, bodily states and physical. A sample of 240 participants rated words on a 7-points Likert-type scale on various dimensions. Aside classical dimensions, like concreteness, abstractness, and imageability, we considered novel dimensions highlighted by recent studies: age and modality of acquisition (perceptual vs linguistic); valence (positive and negative); social dimension; Body-object interaction; perceptual modality and interoception. Preliminary results highlighted a distinction between two macro-kinds of concepts, characterized by a different level of grounding. "Emotions" and "Bodily states" obtained higher BOI and interoception ratings than other categories. "Institutional concepts" and "Knowledge domains" were judged with higher MoA, i.e. mostly linguistically acquired. Our results suggest that differences in concepts kinds thus do not depend only on content but also on mechanisms like interoception and language activation.

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