Abstract language, global perception: How language shapes what we see


We show that the abstractness level of words and sentences influences basic cognitive processes. In particular, we show that abstract language causes participants to pay more attention to global features in a perceptual focus task and makes them more inclusive on a categorization task, while concrete language leads to a more detailed perceptual focus and more exclusive categorizations. These effects are shown for nouns, adjectives and verbs, as well as for sentences with ambitransitive verbs.

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