# Psy 1306 Lecture 7

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```					Psy1306: Language and
Thought
Lecture 7: Spatial Frames of
Reference
Spatial Frames of Reference (FoR)
Spatial Frames of Reference (FoR)
Figure
(Thing to be located)
Ground
(Reference Object)

►   “Where is the girl?”

 The girl is to the south of the umbrella.

 The girl is to the tilted side of the umbrella.

 The girl is to the left of the umbrella.
Terminologies 101
► Egocentric   vs. Allocentric
 Ego (self) vs. Non-Ego FoR

► Object-centered    vs. Geocentric
 Moving entities vs. Earth-anchored Entities

► Relative,   Intrinsic, Absolute

Where is the girl?
Relative, Intrinsic, Absolute
► Figure,   Ground, Coordinate System
 Relative = 3 place relations
 Intrinsic = 2 place relations
►Ground   = Coordinate System
 Absolute = 3 place relations

Where is the girl?
Crosslinguistic Variations for
small scale arrays
► Intrinsic
► Relative:   always have intrinsic
► Absolute
Majid et al.
(Bird’s Eye View)                                                  Rotation Experiment

Step 1: Ss memorize items                                                          Step 2: Ss rotated
north side)
(right side,

Subject
Table 1                  Table 2                                                         Table 1          Table 2

Step 3: Ss recreate “same” as Table 1. At least 2 possible solutions.
Step 3 geocentric tendency                                                              Step 3 egocentric tendency
(north side)

(north side)

(right side)

(right side)
Table 1                   Table 2                                                        Table 1          Table 2
Brown & Levinson (1993)
100
Dutch N = 38
90
Tenejapans N = 27
80
% of Subjects   70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
0   1   2   3    4   5
Number of Geocentric Trials

* Also reported in Pederson, Danziger, Wilkes, Levinson, Kita, Senft (1998).
Other Languages reported in
Pederson, Danziger, Wilkes, Levinson, Kita, Senft (1998).

100                                             100
Japanese N=16                                  Locality of Tamil Ss:
90     Longgu N=13 (-3)
90
Ego Ss N=20 -- urban
80     Arandic N=11 (-5)                        80         Geo Ss N=41 -- rural

% of Subjects
% of Subjects

70                                              70
60                                              60
50                                              50
40                                              40
30                                              30
20                                              20
10                                              10
0                                               0
0 1 2      3   4 5                                 0 1    2   3 4 5
Number of Geocentric Trials                        Number of Geocentric Trials
Pederson et al. (1998)’s
Summary of their Data
Pederson, Danziger, Wilkes, Levinson, Kita, Senft
(1998).

Far more than developing simple habituation, use of the
linguistic system, we suggest, actually forces the speaker to
make computations he or she might otherwise not
make...The linguistic system is far more than an available
pattern for creating internal representations; to learn to
speak a language successfully requires speakers to develop
an appropriate mental representation which is then available
for nonlinguistic purposes. (p. 586).
Levinson et al. 2004
► Proposed    mechanisms of Whorfian Effects
   Perceptual ‘tuning’ and attention
   Re-representation
   Structure-mapping
   Costs of Computation
Perceptual Tuning
Re-representation
Structure-Mapping
Cost of Computation
Taking Stock
Data show:
► Experimental finding show ADULT speakers’
“nonlinguistic” behavior correlates with their
linguistic behavior.

Alternative explanations?
Alternative Explanations?
► Otherthird factor (e.g. culture experience)
might be able to explain the language-
thought effect?

problems: is Make it the “same”
► Translation
same across languages?
Eskimos and Snow Words
► Eskimos  have many snow words.
► Eskimos make fine snow
discriminations

► Many  snow words  fine
snow discriminations
► Experience  Fine snow
discriminations
 Many snow words
Possible Confounding Factors
Abs/Geo: preliterate                          rural   stable
Tenejapan, Arrente, Longgu, Tamil (rural)

Rel/Ego: literate                             urban   transient
Dutch, Japanese, Tamil (urban)
Possible Confounding Factors

Abs/Geo: preliterate                 rural   stable
Rel/Ego: literate                    urban   transient

Sending up the
patient for his north
eye surgery…
Confounding Factors
Abs/Geo: preliterate                           rural                  stable

Rel/Ego: literate                              urban                  transient
One Potential Problem: Literacy possibly linked to response preference
e.g. Totonac (Intrinsic language):
8 relative responders (men, literate) vs. 8 absolute responders (women, illiterate).

In other studies:
Danziger & Pederson (1998). Acceptance of mirror-images as being the “same”
is correlated with literacy.         d different than b

DeLoache et al. (2000). Reading reinforces orienting pictures and words with
respect to self.                       d different than p
Environmental Circumstances
Influencing Spatial Reasoning
Abs/Geo: preliterate              rural               stable
Rel/Ego: literate                 urban               transient

Circumstances help support and maintain these spatial frames
of reference.
Landmarks and Derivation of Geocentric Directional Terms
Tzeltal “tree standing downhill of man”
Hai||om “man stands in ‘land of soft sand”
Longgu “tree standing on side towards sea”
Maze Learning in Rats                                     Rat Setup

“Place-vs.-Response” -- which one is dominant?
Experimental Setup
1. Training.          2. Test turn preference when maze rotated 180°
Place                               Response
(geocentric)                          (egocentric)
or

Experimental Variation
Teach groups PLACE or RESPONSE . Which is easier to learn?
Place                              Response
(geocentric)                          (egocentric)
or
Restle Quote

Summary of Rat Literature
Restle (1957). Discrimination of cues in mazes: A resolution of the
place vs. response question., Psychological Review, 64, p. 226.

There is nothing in the nature of a rat which makes it a
“place” learner or a “response” learner. A rat in a maze will
use all relevant cues, and the importance of any class of
cues depends on the amount of relevant stimulation
provided as well as the sensory capacities of the animal. In
place-response experiments, the importance of place cues
depends on the amount of differential extra-maze
stimulation.
Egocentric vs. Allocentric Debate
Acredolo & Evans (1980)
Varied testing context (to be explained on next slide) using the
Step 1: Train infant to
turn to look at one           Step 2: Rotate infant 180°.
window.                       Which way does infant turn to look?

(allocentric)      (egocentric)
Infant &
Mother
Results from 6-11 months-olds
Test Conditions:
1. Both Windows Plain
2. Fancy Trained Window, Plain Untrained (Direct Landmark)
3. Plain Trained Window, Fancy Untrained Window (Indirect
Landmark)

Found:
6 months, prefer egocentric in any environment
9 months, use direct landmark when available
11 months, additionally to 9 months, use indirect
landmark when available
Bottom-line:
Cues in the environment affect spatial behavior
Egocentric vs. Allocentric Debate      Acredelo Setup

One-shot, No Training
Acredolo (1979)
Step 3: Where does infant
Step 2: Move infant 180° to search?
Step 1: Hide object in one of   other side of the table
two locations.

Infant &
Mother

Vary Setting Unfamiliar vs. Familiar
• bare laboratory
• laboratory with clutter
• home
Result on Familiarity of Environment
Laboratory            Home
UNFAMILIAR            FAMILIAR
Bare             Egocentric

Cluttered        Egocentric            Allocentric

Bottom-line: Environment affects spatial behavior.
Summary
► Experiments  with prelinguistic infants and animals
(like the previous studies with Penn undergrads)
show that environmental contexts affect how the
subjects choose to represent the spatial arrays.

► Environment  affects how one chooses to think
about spatial relationships. As a result,
environment could come to influence the kind of
language that develops.
Confounding Factors    Testing Location

Tenejapans tested outdoors on their hill and Dutchmen tested indoors in
laboratory.

S (Uphill)
House                                             (Tenejapan table setup
Outdoor, porch next to house)
N (Downhill)
1        2

Shouldn’t spatial performance be influenced by
spatial environment?
Question: Perhaps the Tenejapans’ response NOT result of LANGUAGE, BUT
result of surrounding environment and available landmarks?
Pederson, Danziger, Wilkes, Levinson, Kita, Senft (1998)…
Where were subjects tested?

Indoor vs. Outdoor

Test
Environment
geo resp. ego resp. mixed     mono.      Total # Ss.

Indoor*        20        58        3         8           89
Outdoor**        46        6         10        0           62

* Dutch, Japanese, Arrente, Totonac
Eskimo Problem
► Language is tied to the circumstance
► Disassociate language from circumstance
 Move Americans to Vail or Aspen
► Start to think more about snow...
► Start to get words like “sugar”, “granule”, “powder” for snow
 Move Eskimos to Bermuda
► Fewer   uses of snow words, perhaps?

 LIKEWISE – We Move Americans to “Tenejapa”
(i.e., outdoors to a gridded city where streets run from
east to west in increasing cardinality)
► Start to get more geocentric responses…
► Start to get more words like “north”, “south”...
Turning Americans into Tenejapans
Li & Gleitman (2002)
Small Animal Setup

Tenejapans

S (Uphill)
House

1       2        N (Downhill)

Library
Walnut St            S
Window
1       2            N
(room)
Condition 1: IRCS Room BLINDS DOWN
Placing Americans in a setting like the Dutch.

Condition 2: IRCS Room BLINDS UP
Placing Americans in a setting like the Tenejapans.
(testing location: IRCS -- indoor)
Small Animal Data

English Speakers
Brown & Levinson (1993)                          Blinds-Down and Blinds-Up
100                                                       100
Dutch N = 38                                  IRCS Blind Down N =10
90                    Tenejapans N = 27                   90        IRCS Blind Up N =10

% of Subjects
80
% of Subjects

80
70                                                        70
60                                                        60
50                                                        50
40                                                        40
30                                                        30
20                                                        20
10                                                        10
0                                                         0
0  1 2 3 4 5                                              0 1 2 3 4 5
Number of Absolute Trials                                 Number of Absolute Trials
Big Animal Setup

Tenejapans

S (Uphill)
House

1      2   N (Downhill)

Outdoor Location 1                         Outdoor Location 2
Locust Walk

S
S

HRN
1                   2
1       2
N
Library                                                               N
Field
Big Animal Data

Brown & Levinson (1993)                                          Outdoor Conditions
100                                                            100
Dutch N = 38                                    By HRN N=20
90                         Tenejapans N = 27                   90          By Library N = 10

% of Subjects
80
% of Subjects

80
70                                                             70
60                                                             60
50                                                             50
40                                                             40
30                                                             30
20                                                             20
10                                                             10
0                                                              0
0  1 2 3 4 5                                                   0 1 2 3 4 5
Number of Absolute Trials                                     Number of Absolute Trials
Ducks Setup

Increasing Saliency of Landmarks
Unmentioned Duck Ponds on the sides of tables as landmark.

Condition 1: Absolute Biasing         Condition 2: Relative Biasing

Library                                Library
S                 Walnut St                     S
Walnut St
Window                                          Window
1     2                               1                 2            N
N
(room)                                (room)

(testing location: IRCS -- indoor)
Ducks Data

Ducks on the Tables
Brown & Levinson (1993)                          Landmark Manipulation
100                                              100
Dutch N = 38                                     Relative Bias N=20
90          Tenejapans N = 27                    90          Absolute Bias N=20

% of Subjects
80
% of Subjects

80
70                                               70
60                                               60
50                                               50
40                                               40
30                                               30
20                                               20
10                                               10
0                                                0
0  1 2 3 4 5                                  0  1 2 3 4 5
Number of Absolute Trials                    Number of Absolute Trials
Summary
► Pre-linguistic infants & rats make use of
both frames of reference
► Cultural difference or other third factor
might be able to explain some of the effect.
 Eskimo Analogy
 Circumstance  language & behavior
► Does  the “same” mean the same across
languages?
► Interpretation of “same” within a language
requires guessing intent of experimenter.
Interpretations of “the same”

180º

N
► Does  the “same” mean the same across
languages?
► Interpretation of “same” within a language
requires guessing intent of experimenter.
► Ambiguous tasks are subjected to
contextual influence:
 Environment change (indoor-outdoor)
 Triggers s.a. holding animals
 One table manipulation
Reducing Ambiguity – 1 Table vs. 2 Tables
One Table 180° Rotation – Same Table, Same Frame of Ref.
One-Table Setup

Step 1: Ss memorize items                                              Step 2: Ss rotated

(left side,
Subject
north side)
Table                                                Table

Step 3: Ss recreate “same” as Table 1. At least 2 possible solutions.
Step 3 absolute tendency                                           Step 3 relative tendency
(north side)

(left side)
Table                                                Table

(testing location: IRCS -- indoor, blinds-down)
Reducing Ambiguity – 1 Table vs. 2 Tables

(left side,                  Two Tables With Outer 180° Turn – Control Condition
Two-Tables Outer Setup
north side)

Step 1: Ss memorize items                                                            Step 2: Ss rotated

Subject
Table 1                        Table2                                            Table 1             Table 2

Step 3: Ss recreate “same” as Table 1. At least 2 possible solutions.
Step 3 absolute tendency                                                          Step 3 relative tendency
(north side)

(north side)

(left side)

(left side)
Table 1                        Table 2                                           Table 1             Table2

(testing location: IRCS -- indoor, blinds-down)
English Speakers
Brown & Levinson (1993)     One vs. Two Table Data

One Table vs. Two Tables
100                                                                       100
Dutch N = 38                                                            One Table N=10
90          Tenejapans N = 27                                             90        Two Tables N=10
80
% of Subjects

% of Subjects
80
70                                                                        70
60                                                                        60
50                                                                        50
40                                                                        40
30                                                                        30
20                                                                        20
10                                                                        10
0                                                                         0
0  1 2 3 4 5                                                              0  1 2 3 4 5
Number of Absolute Trials                                                Number of Absolute Trials
► Does  the “same” mean the same across
languages?
► How one’s linguistic community customarily
locations and directions might come to
influence what appropriately counts as the
“same” spatial array.
► Experimental   Q to be answered next time.
 Li et al. (under review)
What about Haun et al (2006)
PNAS?

► Common    phylogenetic inheritance of a
preference of allocentric strategy
► Such preference can be overwritten by
cultural preference for egocentric strategy
Levinson (2003)

Cited evidence of linguistic relativity
► Gesture Data
► Pointing to unseen location
Pigeons        Tseltal Speakers   Dutch Speakers
‘HOME’

P
Slide from Peggy

```
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