Left-right mental timeline is robust to visuospatial and verbal interference

Abstract

We test the robustness of American college students’ mental timeline to dual tasks that have interfered with spatial and verbal reasoning in prior work. We focus on the left-right axis for representing sequences of events. We test American college students, who read from left to right. We test for automatic space-time mappings using two established space-time association tasks. We find that their tendency to associate earlier events with the left side of space and later events with the right remains under conditions of visuospatial and verbal interference. We find this both when participants made time judgments about linguistic and non-linguistic stimuli. We discuss the relationship between these results and those obtained for mental timelines that result from learning new metaphors in language (Hendricks & Boroditsky, 2015), and the effects of the same interference tasks on number tasks (mental number-line and counting; van Dijck et al., 2009; Frank et al., 2012).


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