Which is in front of Chinese people: Past or Future?

A study on Chinese people’s space-time mapping

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Abstract

Recent research shows that Chinese, when they gesture about time, tend to put the past “ahead” and the future “behind”. Do they think of time in the way as suggested by their gestures? In this study we investigate whether Chinese people explicitly have such past-in-front mappings. In experiment 1 we show that when time conceptions are constructed with neutral wording (without spatial metaphors), Chinese people are more likely to have a pastin-front-mapping than Spaniards. This could be due to cultural differences in temporal focus of attention, in that Chinese people are more past-oriented than Europeans. However, additional experiments (2 & 3) show that, independent of culture, Chinese people’s past-in-front mapping is sensitive to the wording of sagittal spatial metaphors. In comparison to a neutral condition, they have more past-in-front mappings when time conceptions are constructed with past-in-front spatial metaphors (“front day”, means the day before yesterday), whereas fewer pastin-front mappings are constructed with future-in-front metaphors. There thus appear to be both long-term effects of cultural attitudes on the spatialization of time, and also immediate effects of the space-time metaphors used to probe people’s mental representations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 38th annual conference of the cognitive science society
EditorsA. Papafragou, D. Grodner, D. Mirman, J.C. Trueswell
PublisherAustin, TX: Cognitive Science Society
Pages2603-2608
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventAnnual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society - Philadelphia, United States
Duration: 11 Aug 201614 Aug 2016
Conference number: 38th

Conference

ConferenceAnnual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
CountryUnited States
CityPhiladelphia
Period11/08/1614/08/16

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Cite this

Gu, Y., Zheng, Y., & Swerts, M. (2016). Which is in front of Chinese people: Past or Future? A study on Chinese people’s space-time mapping. In A. Papafragou, D. Grodner, D. Mirman, & J. C. Trueswell (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th annual conference of the cognitive science society (pp. 2603-2608). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
Gu, Yan ; Zheng, Yeqiu ; Swerts, Marc. / Which is in front of Chinese people: Past or Future? A study on Chinese people’s space-time mapping. Proceedings of the 38th annual conference of the cognitive science society . editor / A. Papafragou ; D. Grodner ; D. Mirman ; J.C. Trueswell. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society, 2016. pp. 2603-2608
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title = "Which is in front of Chinese people: Past or Future?: A study on Chinese people’s space-time mapping",
abstract = "Recent research shows that Chinese, when they gesture about time, tend to put the past “ahead” and the future “behind”. Do they think of time in the way as suggested by their gestures? In this study we investigate whether Chinese people explicitly have such past-in-front mappings. In experiment 1 we show that when time conceptions are constructed with neutral wording (without spatial metaphors), Chinese people are more likely to have a pastin-front-mapping than Spaniards. This could be due to cultural differences in temporal focus of attention, in that Chinese people are more past-oriented than Europeans. However, additional experiments (2 & 3) show that, independent of culture, Chinese people’s past-in-front mapping is sensitive to the wording of sagittal spatial metaphors. In comparison to a neutral condition, they have more past-in-front mappings when time conceptions are constructed with past-in-front spatial metaphors (“front day”, means the day before yesterday), whereas fewer pastin-front mappings are constructed with future-in-front metaphors. There thus appear to be both long-term effects of cultural attitudes on the spatialization of time, and also immediate effects of the space-time metaphors used to probe people’s mental representations.",
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Gu, Y, Zheng, Y & Swerts, M 2016, Which is in front of Chinese people: Past or Future? A study on Chinese people’s space-time mapping. in A Papafragou, D Grodner, D Mirman & JC Trueswell (eds), Proceedings of the 38th annual conference of the cognitive science society . Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society, pp. 2603-2608, Annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Philadelphia, United States, 11/08/16.

Which is in front of Chinese people: Past or Future? A study on Chinese people’s space-time mapping. / Gu, Yan; Zheng, Yeqiu; Swerts, Marc.

Proceedings of the 38th annual conference of the cognitive science society . ed. / A. Papafragou; D. Grodner; D. Mirman; J.C. Trueswell. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society, 2016. p. 2603-2608.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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N2 - Recent research shows that Chinese, when they gesture about time, tend to put the past “ahead” and the future “behind”. Do they think of time in the way as suggested by their gestures? In this study we investigate whether Chinese people explicitly have such past-in-front mappings. In experiment 1 we show that when time conceptions are constructed with neutral wording (without spatial metaphors), Chinese people are more likely to have a pastin-front-mapping than Spaniards. This could be due to cultural differences in temporal focus of attention, in that Chinese people are more past-oriented than Europeans. However, additional experiments (2 & 3) show that, independent of culture, Chinese people’s past-in-front mapping is sensitive to the wording of sagittal spatial metaphors. In comparison to a neutral condition, they have more past-in-front mappings when time conceptions are constructed with past-in-front spatial metaphors (“front day”, means the day before yesterday), whereas fewer pastin-front mappings are constructed with future-in-front metaphors. There thus appear to be both long-term effects of cultural attitudes on the spatialization of time, and also immediate effects of the space-time metaphors used to probe people’s mental representations.

AB - Recent research shows that Chinese, when they gesture about time, tend to put the past “ahead” and the future “behind”. Do they think of time in the way as suggested by their gestures? In this study we investigate whether Chinese people explicitly have such past-in-front mappings. In experiment 1 we show that when time conceptions are constructed with neutral wording (without spatial metaphors), Chinese people are more likely to have a pastin-front-mapping than Spaniards. This could be due to cultural differences in temporal focus of attention, in that Chinese people are more past-oriented than Europeans. However, additional experiments (2 & 3) show that, independent of culture, Chinese people’s past-in-front mapping is sensitive to the wording of sagittal spatial metaphors. In comparison to a neutral condition, they have more past-in-front mappings when time conceptions are constructed with past-in-front spatial metaphors (“front day”, means the day before yesterday), whereas fewer pastin-front mappings are constructed with future-in-front metaphors. There thus appear to be both long-term effects of cultural attitudes on the spatialization of time, and also immediate effects of the space-time metaphors used to probe people’s mental representations.

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Gu Y, Zheng Y, Swerts M. Which is in front of Chinese people: Past or Future? A study on Chinese people’s space-time mapping. In Papafragou A, Grodner D, Mirman D, Trueswell JC, editors, Proceedings of the 38th annual conference of the cognitive science society . Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. 2016. p. 2603-2608