L'Embodied Cognition e la sfida dei concetti astratti. Un approccio multidimensionale

Caterina Villani


Riassunto: Se anche i concetti astratti possono essere spiegati completamente attraverso un approccio embodied e grounded è argomento di un crescente dibattito. Tuttavia, le teorie proposte tendono a trattarli come un insieme unitario opposto a quello dei concetti concreti; e nelle ricerche empiriche non c’è concordanza sui criteri per selezionare gli stimoli. Questo studio investiga le implicazioni di tali limitazioni con l’obiettivo di proporre un approccio di ricerca alternativo. Verranno brevemente esaminate le differenze fra parole astratte e concrete, nonché i modelli che ne descrivono la relazione. Dopo aver presentato le recenti prospettive di ricerca, si vedrà come le ipotesi delle teorie a rappresentazione multipla trovano riscontro in alcuni parametri psicolinguistici utili ad analizzare le differenze fra tipi di concetti astratti sulla base delle loro molteplici dimensioni. Si suggerisce così di integrare il modello del continuum monodimensionale della concretezza/astrattezza, al fine di rendere conto della rappresentazione delle varietà dei concetti astratti.

Parole chiave: Embodied e Grounded Cognition; Varietà dei Concetti Astratti; Continuum; Rappresentazione Multipla; Dimensioni Semantiche


Embodied Cognition and the Challenge of Abstract Concepts. A Multidimensional Approach

Abstract: Whether abstract concepts can also be fully explained by an embodied and grounded approach, is a topic of increasing debate. However, the theories that have been put forward tend to treat abstract concepts as a unitary whole in opposition to [the category of] concrete concepts; furthermore, in empirical research there is no agreement on the criteria for selecting stimuli. This study investigates the implications of these limitations with the aim of proposing an alternative research approach. We briefly analyze the differences between abstract and concrete concepts and the models used to describe their relationships. After introducing recent research perspectives, we highlight how the hypotheses of multiple representation theories are reflected in various psycholinguistic parameters that are useful for analyzing differences between types of abstract concepts across multiple dimensions. We suggest integrating the model of the monodimensional continuum of concreteness/abstractness, in order to provide an account for the varieties of abstract concepts.

Keywords: Embodied and Grounded Cognition; Varieties of Abstract Concepts; Continuum; Multiple Representation; Semantic Dimensions

Parole chiave

Embodied e Grounded Cognition; Varietà dei Concetti Astratti; Continuum; Rappresentazione Multipla; Dimensioni Semantiche

Full Text


Riferimenti bibliografici

ALTARRIBA, J., BAUER, L.M. (2004), The Distinctiveness of Emotional Concepts: a Comparison between Emotion, Abstract, and Concrete Words. In: «American Journal of Psychology», vol. CXVII, n. 3, pp. 389-410.

ALTARRIBA, J., BAUER, L.M., BENVENUTO, C. (1999), Concreteness Context Availability and Imageability Ratings and Word Associations for Abstract, Concrete, and Emotion Words. In: «Behavior Research Methods, Instruments & Computers», vol. XXI, n. 4, pp. 578-602.

BARCA, L., BURANI, C., ARDUINO, L.S. (2002), Word Naming Times and Psycholinguistic Norms for Italian Nouns. In: «Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers», vol. XXXIV, n. 3, pp. 424-434.

BARSALOU, L.W. (1999). Perceptual Symbol Systems. In: «Behavioral Brain Sciences», vol. XXII, n. 4, pp. 577-609.

BARSALOU, L.W. (2009). Simulation, Situated Conceptualization, and Prediction. In: «Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences», vol. CCCLXIV, n. 1521, pp. 1281-1289.

BARSALOU, L.W., WIEMER-HASTINGSK, K. (2005). Situating Abstract Concepts. In: D. PECHER, R. ZWAAN, Grounding Cognition: The Role of Perception and Action in Memory, Language and Thought, Cambridge University Press, New York, pp. 129-163.

BENNETT, S.D., BURNETT, A.N., SIAKALUK, P.D., PEXMAN, P. M. (2011). Imageability and Body-object Interaction Ratings for 599 Multisyllabic Nouns. In: «Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers», vol. XLIII, n. 4, pp. 1100-1109.

BINDER, J.R., WESTBURY, C.F., MCKIERNAN, K.A., POSSING, E.T., MEDLER, D.A. (2005). Distinct Brain Systems for Processing Concrete and Abstract Words. In: «Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience», vol. XVII, n. 6, pp. 905-917.

BORGHI, A.M., BARCA, L., BINKOFSKI, F., TUMMOLINI, L. (2018). Abstract Concepts, Language and Sociality: From Acquisition to Inner Speech. In: «Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Series B - Biological Sciences», vol. CCCLXXIII, 2018, pii 20170134 - doi: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0134.

BORGHI, A.M., BARCA, L., BINKOFSKI, F., TUMMOLINI, L. (2018). Varieties of Abstract Concepts: Development, Use and Representation in the Brain. In: «Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Series B: Biological Sciences», vol. CCCLXXIV, n. 1763 - doi: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0386.

BORGHI, A.M., BINKOFSKI, F. (2014). Words as Social Tools: An Embodied View on Abstract Concepts, Springer, Berlin/New York.

BORGHI, A.M., BINKOFSKI, F., CASTELFRANCHI, C., CIMATTI, F., SCOROLLI, C., TUMMOLINI, L. (2017). The Challenge of Abstract Concepts. In: «Psychological Bulletin», vol. CXLIII, n. 3, pp. 263-292.

BORGHI, A.M., CARUANA, F. (2015). Embodiment Theory. In: J.D. WRIGHT (ed.), International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. VII, Elsevier, Oxford, pp. 420-426.

BORGHI, A.M., CIMATTI, F. (2009). Words as Tools and the Problem of Abstract Words Meanings. In: N. TAATGEN, H. VAN RIJN (eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Cognitive Science Society, Amsterdam, pp. 2304-2309.

BORGHI, A.M., FLUMINI, A., CIMATTI, F., MAROCCO, D., SCOROLLI, C. (2011). Manipulating Objects and Telling Words:A Study on Concrete and Abstract Words Acquisition. In: «Frontiers in Psychology», vol. II, n. 15 - doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00015.

BRYSBAERT, M., WARRINER, A.B., KUPERMAN, V. (2014). Concreteness Ratings for 40 Thousand Generally Known English Word Lemmas. In: «Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers», vol. XLVI, n. 3, pp. 904-911.

CASASANTO, D., BORODITSKY, L. (2008). Time in the Mind: Using Space to Think About Time. In: «Cognition», vol. CVI, n. 2, pp. 579-593.

CHEN, M., BARGH, J. (1999). Consequences of Automatic Evaluation: Immediate Behavioral Predispositions to Approach or Avoid the Stimulus. In: «Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin», vol. XXV, n. 2, pp. 215-224.

COELLO, Y., BARTOLO, A. (2012). Language and Action in Cognitive Neuroscience. Contemporary Topics in Cognitive Neuroscience Series, Psychology Press, Brighton.

CONNELL, L., LYNOTT, D. (2012). Strength of Perceptual Experience Predicts Word Processing Performance Better than Concreteness or Imageability. In: «Cognition», vol. CXXV, n. 3, pp. 452-465.

CONNELL, L., LYNOTT, D., BANKS, B. (2018). Interoception: The Forgotten Modality in Perceptual Grounding of Abstract and Concrete Concepts. In: «Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Series B - Biological Sciences», vol. CCCLXXIII, n. 1752, 2018, pii 20170143 - doi: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0143.

CRUTCH, S.J., TROCHE, J., REILLY, J., RIDGWAY, G.R. (2013). Abstract Conceptual Feature Ratings: The Role of Emotion, Magnitude, and Other Cognitive Domains in the Organization of Abstract Conceptual Knowledge. In: «Frontiers in Human Neuroscience», vol. VII, 2013, Art.Nr. 186 – doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00186.

DELLA ROSA, P.A., CATRICALÀ, E., VIGLIOCCO, G., CAPPA, S.F. (2010). Beyond the Abstract – Concrete Dichotomy: Mode of Acquisition, Concreteness, Imageability, Familiarity, Age of Acquisition, Context Availability, and Abstractness Norms for a set of 417 Italian Words. In: «Behavior Research Methods», vol. XLII, n. 4, pp. 1042-1048.

DELLANTONIO, S., MULATTI, C., PASTORE, L., JOB, R. (2014). Measuring Inconsistencies can Lead You Forward: Imageability and the X-ception Theory. In: «Frontiers in Psychology», vol. V, 2014, Art.Nr. 708 – doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00708.

DOVE, G. (2011). On the Need for Embodied and Disembodied Cognition. In: «Frontiers in Psychology», vol. I, 2011, Art.Nr. 242 – doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00242.

FISCHER, M.H., ZWAAN, R. (2008). Embodied Language: A Review of the Role of the Motor System in Language Comprehension. In: «The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology», vol. LXI, n. 6, pp. 825-850.

FODOR, J.A. (1983). The Modularity of Mind: An Essay on Faculty Psychology, MIT Press, Cambridge (MA).

FORDE, E., HUMPHREYS, G. (2005). Category Specificity in Brain and Mind, Psychology Press.

GHIO, M., VAGHI, M.M.S., TETTAMANTI, M. (2013). Fine-grained Semantic Categorization across the Abstract and Concrete Domains. In: «PLoS ONE», vol. VIII, n. 6, Art.Nr. e67090 – doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067090.

GIESSNER, S.R., SCHUBERT, T.W. (2007). High in the Hierarchy: How Vertical Location and Judgments of Leaders’ Power are Interrelated. In: «Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes», vol. CIV, n. 1, pp. 30-44.

GILHOOLY, K.J., LOGIE, R.H. (1980). Age-of-acquisition, Imagery, Concreteness, Familiarity, and Ambiguity Measures for 1,944 Words. In: «Behavior Research Methods & Instrumentation», vol. XII, n. 4, pp. 395-427.

GLENBERG, A.M., SATO, M., CATTANEO, L., RIGGIO, L., PALUMBO, L., BUCCINO, G. (2008). Processing Abstract Language Modulates Motor System Activity. In: «Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology», vol. LXI, n. 6, pp. 905-919.

GLENBERG, A.M., KASCHAK, M.P. (2002). Grounding Language in Action. In: «Psychonomic Bulletin & Review», vol. IX, n. 3, pp. 558-565.

GRANITO, C., SCOROLLI, C., BORGHI, A.M. (2015). Naming a Lego World. The Role of Language in the Acquisition of ACs. In: «PLoS ONE», vol. X, n.1, Art.Nr. e0114615 - doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114615.

HARNAD, S., (1990). The Symbol Grounding Problem. In: «Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena», vol. XLII, n. 1-3, 1990, pp. 335-346.

JAMES, C.T. (1975). The Role of Semantic Information in Lexical Decisions. In: «Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance», vol. I, n. 2, pp. 130-136.

JEANNEROD, M. (2006). Motor Cognition: What Actions Tell the Self, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

JIRAK, D., MENZ, M., BUCCINO, G., BORGHI, A.M., BINKOFSKI, F. (2010). Grasping Language. A Short Story on Embodiment. In: «Consciousness and Cognition», vol. XIX, n. 3, pp. 711-720.

KEIL, F.C. (1989). Concepts, Kinds and Development, MIT Press, Cambridge (MA).

KOUSTA, S.T., VIGLIOCCO, G., VINSON, D., ANDREWS, M., DEL CAMPO, E. (2011). The Representation of Abstract Words: Why Emotions Matters. In: «Journal of Experimental Psychology: General», vol. CXL, n. 1, pp. 14-34.

KROLL, J., MERVES, J.S. (1986). Lexical Access for Concrete and Abstract Words. In: «Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition», vol. XII, n. 1, pp. 92-107.

LAKOFF, G., JOHNSON, M. (1980). Metaphors We Live By, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

LUPYAN, G., WINTER, B. (2018). Language is More Abstract than you Think, or, Why aren’t Languages more Iconic?. In: «Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Series B - Biological Sciences», vol. CCCLXXIII, n. 1752, 2018, pii 20170137 - doi: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0137.

MAHON, B., CARAMAZZA, A. (2008). A Critical Look at the Embodied Cognition Hypothesis and a New Proposal for Grounding Conceptual Content. In: «Journal of Physiology-Paris», vol. CII, n. 1-3, pp. 59-70.

MEIER, B.P., HAUSER, D.J., ROBINSON, M.D., FRIESEN, C.K., SCHJELDAHL, K. (2007). What’s “up” with God? Vertical Space as a Representation of the Divine. In: «Journal of Personality and Social Psychology», vol. XCIII, n. 5, pp. 699-710.

MELLEM, M.S., JASMIN, K.M., PENG, C., MARTIN, A. (2016). Sentence Processing in Anterior Superior Temporal Cortex Shows a Social-emotional Bias. In: «Neuropsychologia», vol. LXXXIX, pp. 217-224.

MOSELEY, R., CAROTA, F., HAUK, O., MOHR, B., PULVERMÜLLER, F. (2011). A Role for the Motor System in Binding Abstract Emotional Meaning. In: «Cerebral Cortex», vol. XXII, n. 7, pp. 1634-1647.

NEWCOMBE, P.I., CAMPBELL, C., SIAKALUK, P.D., PEXMAN, P.M. (2012). Effects of Emotional and Sensorimotor Knowledge in Semantic Processing of Concrete and Abstract Nouns. In: «Frontiers in Human Neuroscience», vol. VI, Art.Nr. 275 – doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00275.

PAIVIO, A. (1986). Mental Representations: A Dual Coding Approach, Oxford University Press, Oxford/New York.

PAIVIO, A., YULLIE, J., MADIGAN, S. (1968). Concreteness, Imagery, and Meaningfulness Values for 925 Nouns. In: «Journal of Experimental Psychology. Monograph Supplement», vol. LXXVI, n.1, pp. 1-25.

PONARI, M., NORBURY, C.F, VIGLIOCCO, G. (2018). Acquisition of Abstract Concepts is Influenced by Emotional Valence. In: «Developmental Science», vol. XXI, n. 2, 2018, Art. Nr. e12549 – doi: 10.1111/ desc.12549.

PULVERMÜELLER, F. (2018). The case of CAUSE: neurobiological mechanisms for grounding an abstract concept. In: «Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Series B - Biological Sciences», vol. CCCLXXIII, n. 1752, 2018, pii 20170129 - doi: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0129

ROBBINS, P., AYDEDE, M. (2008). A Short Primer on Situated Cognition. In: P. ROBBINS, M. AYDEDE (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition, Cambridge University Press, New York, pp. 3-9.

ROSEN, G. (2012). Abstract Objects. In E.N. ZALTA (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2012/entries/abstract-objects/.

ROVERSI, C., BORGHI, A.M., TUMMOLINI, L. (2013). A Marriage is an Artifact and not a Walk that we Take Together: An Experimental Study on the Categorization of Artifacts. In: «Review of Philosophy and Psychology», vol. IV, n. 3, pp. 527-542.

SCHWANENFLUGEL, P. J., HARNISHFEGER, K. K., STOWE, R.W. (1988). Context Availability and Lexical Decisions for Abstract and Concrete Words. In: «Journal of Memory and Language», vol. XXVII, n. 5, pp. 499-520.

SCHWANENFLUGEL, P.J., AKIN, C., LUH, W.M. (1992). Context Availability and the Recall of Abstract and Concrete Words. In: « Memory & Cognition», vol. XX, n.1, pp. 96-104.

SCHWANENFLUGEL, P.J., SHOBEN, E.J. (1983). Differential Context Effects in the Comprehension of Abstract and Concrete Verbal Materials. In: «Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition», vol. IX, n.1, pp. 82-102.

SETTI, A., CARAMELLI, N. (2005). Different Domains in Abstract Concepts. In: B. BARA, B. BARSALOU, M. BUCCIARELLI (eds.), Proceedings of the XXVII Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science, Erlbaum, Mahwah (NJ), pp. 1997-2002.

SHEA, N. (2018). Metacognition and Abstract Concepts. In: «Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Series B - Biological Sciences», vol. CCCLXXIII, n. 1752, 2018, pii 20170133 - doi: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0133.

SOUDR, Y., LEMOGNE, C., MALINVAUD, D., M.CONSOLI, S., BONFILS, P. (2011). Olfactory System and Emotion: Common Substrates. In: «European Annals of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Diseases», vol. CXXVIII, n. 1, pp. 18-23.

SPREEN, O. SCHULZ, R.W. (1966). Parameters of Abstractions, Meaningfulness and Pronunciability. In: «Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour», vol. V, n. 5, pp. 459-468.

TSCHENTSCHER, N., HAUK, O., FISCHER, M.H., PULVERMÜLLER, F. (2012). You can Count on the Motor Cortex: Finger Counting Habits Modulate Motor Cortex Activation Evoked by Numbers. In: «Neuroimage», vol. LIX, n. 4, pp. 3139-3148.

VIGLIOCCO, G., KOUSTA, S., VINSON, D., ANDREW, M., DEL CAMPO, E. (2013). The Representation of Abstract Words: What Matters? Reply to Paivio’s (2013) comment on Kousta et al. (2011). In: «Journal of Experimental Psychology: General», vol. CXLII, n. 1, pp. 288-291.

WARRINGTON, E.K., SHALLICE, T. (1984). Category Specific Semantic Impairments. In: «Brain», vol. CVII, n. 3, pp. 829-853.

WAUTERS, L.N., TELLINGS, A.E., VAN BON, W.H., VAN HAAFTEN, A.W. (2003). Mode of Acquisition of Word Meanings: The Viability of a Theoretical Construct. In: «Applied Psycholinguistics», vol. XXIV, n. 3, pp. 385-406.

WIEMER-HASTINGS, K., KRUG, J., XU, X. (2001). Imagery, Context Availability, Contextual Constraints and Abstractness. In: Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Erlbaum, Hillsdale (NJ) pp. 1134-1139.

WILLEMS, R.M., HAGOORT, P. (2007). Neural Evidence for the Interplay between Language, Gesture and Action: A Review. In: «Brain and Language», vol. CI, n. 3, pp. 278-289.

WITTGENSTEIN, L. (1953/1968). Ricerche filosofiche, traduzione di M. TRINCHERO, Einaudi, Torino.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4453/rifp.2018.0024

Copyright (c) 2018 Caterina Villani

URLdella licenza: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Rivista internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia - ISSN: 2039-4667 (print) - E-ISSN: 2239-2629 (online)

Registrazione al Tribunale di Milano n. 634 del 26-11-2010 - Direttore Responsabile: Aurelia Delfino

Web provider Aruba spa - Loc. Palazzetto, 4 - 52011 Bibbiena (AR) - P.IVA 01573850516 - C.F. e R.I./AR 04552920482

Licenza Creative Commons
Dove non diversamente specificato, i contenuti di Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia sono distribuiti con Licenza Creative Commons Attribuzione 4.0 Internazionale.