Effects of context on processing emotionally neutral abstract and concrete concepts

Liusheng Wang1, Hongmei Qiu2, Jianjun Yin3
1School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, and Department of Psychology, East China Normal University and Nantong University, People’s Republic of China
2Department of Psychology, Nantong University, People’s Republic of China
3Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Jackson State University, United States
Cite this article:  Wang, L., Qiu, H., & Yin, J. (2016). Effects of context on processing emotionally neutral abstract and concrete concepts. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 44(7), 1191-1200.

Volume 44 Issue 7 | e5356 | Published: August 2016 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2016.44.7.1191

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The abstractness effect describes the phenomenon of individuals processing abstract concepts faster and more accurately than they process concrete concepts. In this study, we explored the effects of context on how 43 college students processed words, controlling for the emotional valence of the words. The participants performed a lexical decision task in which they were shown individual abstract and concrete words, or abstract and concrete words embedded in sentences. The results showed that in the word-context condition the participants’ processing of concrete concepts improved, whereas in the sentence-context condition their processing of abstract concepts improved. These findings support the embodied cognition theory of concept processing.

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