Revisiting Mental Simulation in Language Comprehension: Six Replication Attempts
PLoS ONE , Volume 7 - Issue 12
The notion of language comprehension as mental simulation has become popular in cognitive science. We revisit some of the original empirical evidence for this. Specifically, we attempted to replicate the findings from earlier studies that examined the mental simulation of object orientation, shape, and color, respectively, in sentence-picture verification. For each of these sets of findings, we conducted two web-based replication attempts using Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Our results are mixed. Participants responded faster to pictures that matched the orientation or shape implied by the sentence, replicating the original findings. The effect was larger and stronger for shape than orientation. Participants also responded faster to pictures that matched the color implied by the sentence, whereas the original studies obtained mismatch advantages. We argue that these results support mental simulation theory, show the importance of replication studies, and show the viability of web-based data collection.