Later events lie behind her, but not behind you: Compatibility effects for temporal sequences along the sagittal axis depend on perspective

Abstract

Perspective plays a large role in how we think about space. Does perspective also influence how we think about abstract concepts, such as time—which is closely associated with how we think about space? Linguistic patterns suggest that speakers talk about temporal sequences from two perspectives: field-based and ego perspective (Moore, 2011). However, the psychological reality of these mappings beyond their use in language is unclear. The present study examines whether sequential reasoning recruits the sagittal axis differently, depending on the perspective adopted. We manipulated perspective by using pronouns meant to evoke a field-based or ego perspective (“her” vs “your”, respectively). Participants made earlier-than or later-than judgments about event sequences using a mouse in front of or behind their body. We observed an interaction between pronoun, temporal reference, and response location. Participants map space onto time differently depending on the frame of reference from which temporal sequences are interpreted.


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