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What are the cross cultural differences on the relationship between talking and thinking ?

1. West: Speech + thought are thoroughly interrelated

  • Analytic thinking, where each part can be described seperately + sequentially

2. East: Speech + thought are independent from one another

  •  Holistic thinking, where one focuses on the whole


In comparison to western countries, eastern countries put less emphasis on speech.

But does speech necessarily mean less communication ?


the closer the relationship, the more likely are people to rely on nonverbal communication

--> interdependence


Why is one better at recognizing objects or faces when one was not previously asked to describe it ?

Because, verbal descriptions will interfere with our ability to process the object as a whole

--> poorer recall


High context culture

Refer to cultures where people are deeply involved with each other + have shared info that guides their behavior

  •  no need of explicit communication, more indirect speech

e.g.: Eastern cultures


Low context culture

Refers to a culture with little involvement among individuals

  • need for explicit communication to guide behavior, more direct speech

e.g.: Western cultures


There is a big difference in the explicitness of East asian languages, compared to European languages.

How is the key information of messages, when talking, conveyed ?

They are expressed nonverbally, whilst the content of the words are rather empty

  •  this is why easterners attend + focus more on the opponent conveying the message

e.g.: facial expressions, gestures, etc


Whorfian/linguistic relativity hypothesis

(Strong version)

Language determines how we think, we cannot think without language (available words)

--> universally rejected


Whorfian/linguistic relativity hypothesis

(Weak version)

Suggests that the language we speak affects how we think

--> e.g.: certain aspects of cognition like perception + memory


Categorical perception

Suggests that we tend to perceive stimuli as belonging to separate + discrete categories, even though the stimuli may gradually differ from each other along a continuum

ex.: difference between the phonemes "ba" vs "pa", difference between colors green + blue


Much debate one the Whorfian hypothesis has focused on cross cultural differences in color perception, as different cultures classify colors in different ways.

Does the weaker version of the worfian hypothesis hold true here ?


Ones perception of different colors is influenced by the color categories used in ones respective languages

--> as shown by categorical perception


Mathematics is a domain that is independent from culture, thus our ability to reason with numbers should reflect the experiences we had in our cultures.

Is this true and therefore evidence for the strong version of the Whorfian hypothesis ?


Evidence showed that if linguistic terms for specific numbers were absent, people were not able to understand the associated numerical concept


--> e.g.: if there is no word for numbers higher than 2, one isn't able to do maths correctly


Linguistic relativity can be considered in terms of peoples spatial descriptions.

How does this differ from culture to culture ?

West: Identify locations based on their position relative to the speaker

--> recent development

Australians: Identify locations based on the cardinal directions


Linguistic relativity

Refers to the ways in which speakers of any given language are influenced by the language they speak



Refers to the study of the ways in which language is used + understood in the real world

--> relates to the intended meaning as opposed to the literal meaning

"meaning minus semantics"


Figurative language

Refers to language that is not intended to be taken literally

ex.: metaphors, irony etc

  • requires more cognitive resources than literal language processing
  • combining content with a relationship type


What are the 3 stages involved in processing a metaphorical or figurative statement ?

(Standard pragmatic model)

1. Assessing the literal meaning

2. Deciding whether the literal meaning makes sense in the current context

3. If inadequate, searching for a suitable one


Standard pragmatic model

Predicts that figurative/metaphorical meanings should be accessed more slowly than literal ones

--> proved to be wrong, because this process is automatic


Predication model of metaphor understanding


Suggests that our understanding of metaphors depends on our ability to inhibit semantic properties of the predicate that are irrelevant to the argument (Non-reversability)


Consists of 2 components:

1. Latent semantic analysis component

  •  understanding the meanings of words based on their relations to other words

2. Construction-integration component

  •  using info from component 1 to construct interpretations of the statement


=> Metaphors involve a non-directional process that is preceded by a directional process


Directional process

Projecting info from the argument onto the predicate

ex.: sharks are aggressive, thus lawyers are aggressive


Non-directional process

Involves finding commonalities in meaning between the argument + predicate

ex.: sharks + lawyers


People with better ... -Memory are better at inhibiting info that is irrelevant to the situation, thus are faster at understanding metaphors.



Common ground

Refers to the shared knowledge + beliefs possessed by a speaker and listener

  •  the use of it facilitates communication

e.g.: Easterners have a greater common ground


Egocentric heuristic

Refers to a strategy used by listeners in which they interpret what they hear based on their own knowledge rather than knowledge shared with the speaker

--> causes one to misunderstand the speaker

e.g.: Westerners engage in this more often


Why do listeners often rely on the egocentric heuristic ?

Because, it can be cognitively challenging/demanding to take on the perspective of a different person


Theory of WM capacity

Individuals with high WM capacity have superior executive attention

--> these differences influence language comprehension


Why does higher WM capacity lead to faster metaphor processing ?

1. Reduced mind-wandering

2. Better at discriminating between relevant + irrelevant info

3. Smaller seductive details effect



Refers to language that is a minimum of several sentences in length

--> can be written text or connected speech


What is the difference in processing a discourse vs single sentence ?

A Single sentence is often harder to process/comprehend as there is little info to infer.

--> when listening to a discourse one has a lot of info to make several conclusions


List the 3 main types of inferences.

1. Bridging

2. Elaborative

3. Logical


Bridging inference

Involves establishing coherence between the current part of the text + the preceding text