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    Rights statement: © American Psychological Association, 2017. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/xge0000314

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The Whorfian time warp: representing duration through the language hourglass

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The Whorfian time warp : representing duration through the language hourglass. / Bylund, Emanuel; Athanasopoulos, Panos.

In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol. 146, No. 7, 2017, p. 911-916.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Harvard

Bylund, E & Athanasopoulos, P 2017, 'The Whorfian time warp: representing duration through the language hourglass', Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, vol. 146, no. 7, pp. 911-916. https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000314

APA

Vancouver

Bylund E, Athanasopoulos P. The Whorfian time warp: representing duration through the language hourglass. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 2017;146(7):911-916. Epub 2017 Apr 27. doi: 10.1037/xge0000314

Author

Bylund, Emanuel ; Athanasopoulos, Panos. / The Whorfian time warp : representing duration through the language hourglass. In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 2017 ; Vol. 146, No. 7. pp. 911-916.

Bibtex

@article{78a5cee1ee0b4915acba789db7a6b794,
title = "The Whorfian time warp: representing duration through the language hourglass",
abstract = "How do humans construct their mental representations of the passage of time? The universalist account claims that abstract concepts like time are universal across humans. In contrast, the linguistic relativity hypothesis holds that speakers of different languages represent duration differently. The precise impact of language on duration representation is, however, unknown. Here, we show that language can have a powerful role in transforming humans{\textquoteright} psychophysical experience of time. Contrary to the universalist account, we found language-specific interference in a duration reproduction task, where stimulus duration conflicted with its physical growth. When reproducing duration, Swedish speakers were misled by stimulus length, and Spanish speakers were misled by stimulus size/quantity. These patterns conform to preferred expressions of duration magnitude in these languages (Swedish: long/short time; Spanish: much/small time). Critically, Spanish-Swedish bilinguals performing the task in both languages showed different interference depending on language context. Such shifting behavior within the same individual reveals hitherto undocumented levels of flexibility in time representation. Finally, contrary to the linguistic relativity hypothesis, language interference was confined to difficult discriminations (i.e., when stimuli varied only subtly in duration and growth), and was eliminated when linguistic cues were removed from the task. These results reveal the malleable nature of human time representation as part of a highly adaptive information processing system.",
author = "Emanuel Bylund and Panos Athanasopoulos",
note = "{\textcopyright} American Psychological Association, 2017. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/xge0000314",
year = "2017",
doi = "10.1037/xge0000314",
language = "English",
volume = "146",
pages = "911--916",
journal = "Journal of Experimental Psychology: General",
issn = "0096-3445",
publisher = "AMER PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOC",
number = "7",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Whorfian time warp

T2 - representing duration through the language hourglass

AU - Bylund, Emanuel

AU - Athanasopoulos, Panos

N1 - © American Psychological Association, 2017. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/xge0000314

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - How do humans construct their mental representations of the passage of time? The universalist account claims that abstract concepts like time are universal across humans. In contrast, the linguistic relativity hypothesis holds that speakers of different languages represent duration differently. The precise impact of language on duration representation is, however, unknown. Here, we show that language can have a powerful role in transforming humans’ psychophysical experience of time. Contrary to the universalist account, we found language-specific interference in a duration reproduction task, where stimulus duration conflicted with its physical growth. When reproducing duration, Swedish speakers were misled by stimulus length, and Spanish speakers were misled by stimulus size/quantity. These patterns conform to preferred expressions of duration magnitude in these languages (Swedish: long/short time; Spanish: much/small time). Critically, Spanish-Swedish bilinguals performing the task in both languages showed different interference depending on language context. Such shifting behavior within the same individual reveals hitherto undocumented levels of flexibility in time representation. Finally, contrary to the linguistic relativity hypothesis, language interference was confined to difficult discriminations (i.e., when stimuli varied only subtly in duration and growth), and was eliminated when linguistic cues were removed from the task. These results reveal the malleable nature of human time representation as part of a highly adaptive information processing system.

AB - How do humans construct their mental representations of the passage of time? The universalist account claims that abstract concepts like time are universal across humans. In contrast, the linguistic relativity hypothesis holds that speakers of different languages represent duration differently. The precise impact of language on duration representation is, however, unknown. Here, we show that language can have a powerful role in transforming humans’ psychophysical experience of time. Contrary to the universalist account, we found language-specific interference in a duration reproduction task, where stimulus duration conflicted with its physical growth. When reproducing duration, Swedish speakers were misled by stimulus length, and Spanish speakers were misled by stimulus size/quantity. These patterns conform to preferred expressions of duration magnitude in these languages (Swedish: long/short time; Spanish: much/small time). Critically, Spanish-Swedish bilinguals performing the task in both languages showed different interference depending on language context. Such shifting behavior within the same individual reveals hitherto undocumented levels of flexibility in time representation. Finally, contrary to the linguistic relativity hypothesis, language interference was confined to difficult discriminations (i.e., when stimuli varied only subtly in duration and growth), and was eliminated when linguistic cues were removed from the task. These results reveal the malleable nature of human time representation as part of a highly adaptive information processing system.

U2 - 10.1037/xge0000314

DO - 10.1037/xge0000314

M3 - Journal article

VL - 146

SP - 911

EP - 916

JO - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

JF - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

SN - 0096-3445

IS - 7

ER -