Effect Size Matters: The Role of Language Statistics and Perceptual Simulation in Conceptual Processing

M.M. Louwerse, S Hutchinson, R.N. Tillman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    The cognitive science literature increasingly demonstrates that perceptual representations are activated during conceptual processing. Such findings suggest that the debate on whether conceptual processing is predominantly symbolic or perceptual has been resolved. However, studies too frequently provide evidence for perceptual simulations without addressing whether other factors explain dependent variables as well, and if so, to what extent. The current paper examines effect sizes computed from 137 experiments in 52 published embodied cognition studies to clarify the conditions under which perceptual simulations are most important. Results showed that effects of perceptual simulation tend to be as large as those of language statistics. Moreover, factors that can be associated with immediate processing (button press, word processing) tend to reduce the effect size of perceptual simulation. These findings are considered in respect to the Symbol Interdependency Hypothesis, which argues that language encodes perceptual information, with language statistics explaining quick, good-enough representations and perceptual simulation explaining more effortful, detailed representations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)430-447
    JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
    Issue number4
    Early online date1 Dec 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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