Reading and writing direction causes spatial biases in mental model construction in language understanding

Antonio RománUniversity of Granada, Spain
Andrea FluminiUniversity of Bologna, Italy
Marysol EscobarAutonomous University of Baja California, Mexico
Julio SantiagoUniversity of Granada, Spain

Abstract

Is the direction of the script able to cause spatial biases in the mental models that understanders build when listening to language? In order to answer this question, we manipulated experimentally the experience of reading a script with different directionalities. Spanish monolinguals read either normal (left-to-right), mirror reversed (right-to-left), rotated downward (up-down), or rotated upward (down-up) text, and then drew the contents of auditory descriptions such as “the square is between the cross and the triangle”. The directionality of the drawings showed that a brief reading experience is enough to cause congruent and very specific spatial biases in mental model construction. However, there were limits to this flexibility: there was a strong overall preference to arrange the models along the horizontal dimension.

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Reading and writing direction causes spatial biases in mental model construction in language understanding (211 KB)



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