[PS-2.13] Back and forth - Evidence for embodied sentence processing: the Action-Sentence Compatibility Effect across different sentence types and tasks

Feldmeth, A. K. & Konieczny, L.

University of Freiburg, Center for Cognitive Science

The Action-sentence compatibility-effect (ACE; Glenberg&Kaschak, 2002, PsychonBullRev) has been one important source of support for theories of embodied sentence processing. Recently, the reliability of the effect has been critically discussed (Papesh, 2015, JEPG). In our experiments, we found compatibility-effects with German sentences in future tense, but only in particular circumstances regarding timing and sentence structure.

Participants listened to/read sentences, describing directed actions between two referents (verbs were rated beforehand; N=58), e.g. He/She will give me the book. The task after each sentence required a movement either towards or away from the body.

Experiment 1 and 2 (N=72/60) revealed a compatibility-effect of verb and movement direction (ACE). Results were similar across different presentation modes (audio/RSVP) and tasks (sensibility judgement/colour distinction).

In Experiment 3 (N=63), the decision task was delayed for 800ms. We found a reversed effect - faster reaction times for incompatible trials.
No effect of compatibility was found for sentences using 1st person on agent and 3rd person pronouns on recipient, or 3rd person on both sentence positions.

We replicated the ACE with new sentence structures (Exp.1/2), supporting embodied theories. However, the reversed pattern (Exp.3) and the missing effect with other pronoun combinations call for further research of the underlying processes.