Abstract Concepts: Sensory-Motor Grounding, Metaphors, and Beyond
Abstract In the last decade many researchers have obtained evidence for the idea that cognition shares processing mechanisms with perception and action. Most of the evidence supporting the grounded cognition framework focused on representations of concrete concepts, which leaves open the question how abstract concepts are grounded in sensory-motor processing. One promising idea is that people simulate concrete situations and introspective experiences to represent abstract concepts [Barsalou, L. W., & Wiemer-Hastings, K. (2005). Situating abstract concepts. In D. Pecher, & R. A. Zwaan (Eds.), Grounding cognition: The role of perception and action in memory, language, and thinking (pp. 129–163). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.], although this has not yet been investigated a lot. A second idea, which more researchers have investigated, is that people use metaphorical mappings from concrete to abstract concepts [Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: Chicago University Press.]. According to this conceptual metaphor theory, image schemas structure and provide sensory-motor grounding for abstract concepts. Although there is evidence that people automatically activate image schemas when they process abstract concepts, we argue that situations are also needed to fully represent meaning.