Which is in front of Chinese people: Past or Future? A study on Chinese people's space-time mapping

Yan Gu, Yeqiu Zheng, Marc Swerts

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingConference proceedingAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

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 past-in-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 past-in-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 Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, CogSci 2016
EditorsAnna Papafragou, Daniel Grodner, Daniel Mirman, John C. Trueswell
Pages2603-2608
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780991196739
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Recognizing and Representing Events, CogSci 2016 - Philadelphia, United States
Duration: 10 Aug 201613 Aug 2016

Publication series

SeriesProceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, CogSci 2016

Conference

Conference38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Recognizing and Representing Events, CogSci 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPhiladelphia
Period10/08/1613/08/16

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, CogSci 2016. All rights reserved.

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