Do potential past and future events activate the Lateral Mental Timeline?

Abstract

We tested whether potential events are represented along the lateral mental timeline. In Experiment 1 participants categorized the temporal reference of either factual or potential events and responded by means of a lateralized keypress. Factual events replicated prior findings: participants were faster to categorize past events with the left hand and future events with the right hand than when using the opposite mapping. Mainly, this also ocurred for potential events. Experiment 2 replicated this finding using pure blocks of potential events. In order to assess the automaticity of the mental timeline, Experiment 3 asked participants to judge whether the expressions referred to factual or potential events. There was no space-time congruency effect. Instead, participants faster categorized potential events with the left hand and factual events with the right hand than when using the opposite mapping, suggesting for the first time a link between the mental representations of space and potentiality.


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