Words: How do we understand them, and what are they good for?

Zachary Estes

Department of Marketing
Bocconi University
Milan, Italy

This course will examine several current topics in language and cognition, focusing on various ways in which individual words convey meaning and guide behavior. In addition to discussion of theoretical importance and selective review of current empirical phenomena, we will also briefly consider practical implications of these research topics.

Lecture 1.Sound symbolism

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Required Readings:
  1. Monaghan, P., Christiansen, M. H., & Fitneva, S. A. (2011). The arbitrariness of the sign: Learning advantages from the structure of the vocabulary. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 140, 325-347.
Further (Optional) Reading:
  1. Aveyard, M. E. (2012). Some consonants sound curvy: Effects of sound symbolism on object recognition. Memory & Cognition, 40, 83-92.
  2. Kovic, V., Plunkett, K., & Westermann, G. (2010). The shape of words in the brain. Cognition, 114, 19-28.
  3. Ludwig, V. U., Adachi, I., & Matsuzawa, T. (2011). Visuoauditory mappings between high luminance and high pitch are shared by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 20661-20665.
  4. Ozturk, O., Krehm, M., & Vouloumanos, A. (2013). Sound symbolism in infancy: Evidence for sound-shape cross-modal correspondences in 4-month-olds. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114, 173-186.
  5. Thompson, P. D., & Estes, Z. (2011). Sound symbolic naming of novel objects is a Holden, M. P., Newcombe, N.S. & Shipley, T.F. (2013). Location memory in the real world: Category adjustment effects in 3-dimensional space. Cognition, 128, 45-55.
Farther Afield:
  1. Spence, C. (2012). Managing sensory expectations concerning products and brands: Capitalizing on the potential of sound and shape symbolism. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 22, 37-54.

Lecture 2.Language and emotion

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Required Readings:
  1. Kousta, S-T., Vinson, D. P., & Vigliocco, G. (2009). Emotion words, regardless of polarity, have a processing advantage over neutral words. Cognition, 112, 473-481.
Further (Optional) Reading:
  1. Estes, Z. & Adelman, J. S. (2008-a). Automatic vigilance for negative words in lexical decision and naming: Comment on Larsen, Mercer, and Balota (2006). Emotion, 8, 441-444.
  2. Estes, Z. & Adelman, J. S. (2008-b). Automatic vigilance for negative words is categorical and general. Emotion, 8, 453-457.
  3. Estes, Z. & Verges, M. (2008). Freeze or flee? Negative stimuli elicit selective responding. Cognition, 108, 557-565.
  4. Larsen, R. J., Mercer, K. A., Balota, D. A., & Strube, M. J. (2008). Not all negative words slow down lexical decision and naming speed: Importance of word arousal. Emotion, 8, 445-452.
  5. Scott, G., O'Donnell, P., & Sereno, S. (2012). Emotion words a?ect eye ?xations during reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 38, 783-792.
Farther Afield:
  1. Guest, D., Gibbert, M., Estes, Z., & Mazursky, D. (2013). "Would you like the Fat Bastard, sir?" Brand personality and consumer personality determine when negative brand names are evaluated positively. WORKING PAPER.

Lecture 3. Sexual dimorphism in neurocognitive functioning.

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Required Readings:
  1. Halpern, D.F., Benbow, C.P., Geary, D.C., Gur, R.C., Shibley Hyde, J., Gernsbacher, M.A. (2007). The science of sex differences in science and mathematics. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 8, 1-51.
Further Reading:
  1. Else-Quest, N.M., Shibley Hyde, J., Linn, M.C. (2010). Cross-national patterns of gender differences in mathematics: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 103-127.
  2. Gur, R.C., Richard, J., Calkins, M.E., Chiavacci, R., Hansen, J.A., et al. (2012). Age group and sex differences in performance on a computerized neurocognitive battery in children age 8-21. Neuropsychology, 26, 251-265.
  3. Sommer, I.E.C., Aleman, A., Kahn, R.S. (2004). Do women really have more bilateral language representation than men: A meta-analysis of functional imaging studies. Brain, 127, 1845-1852.
Extended readings:
  1. Caplan, P.J., Crawford, M., Shibley Hyde, J., Richardson, J.T.E. (1997). Sex Differences in Human Cognition. Oxford University Press: Oxford. 1-193.

Lecture 4. Thematic thinking.

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Required Readings:
  1. Estes, Z., Golonka, S., & Jones, L. L. (2011). Thematic thinking: The apprehension and consequences of thematic relations (pp. 249-294). In B. Ross (Ed.), Psychology of Learning and Motivation, Vol. 54. Burlington: Academic Press.
Further (Optional) Reading:
  1. Badham, S. P., Estes, Z., & Maylor, E. A. (2012). Integrative and semantic relations equally alleviate age-related associative memory deficits. Psychology and Aging, 27, 141-152.
  2. Estes, Z. & Jones, L. L. (2009). Integrative priming occurs rapidly and uncontrollably during lexical processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 138, 112-130.
  3. Mirman, D., & Graziano, K. M. (2012). Damage to temporo-parietal cortex decreases incidental activation of thematic relations during spoken word comprehension. Neuropsychologia, 50, 1990-1997.
  4. Mirman, D., & Graziano, K. M. (2012). Individual differences in the strength of taxonomic versus thematic relations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141, 601-609.
  5. Simmons, S. & Estes, Z. (2008). Individual differences in the perception of similarity and difference. Cognition, 108, 781-795.
Farther Afield:
  1. Chae, B. (G.), & Hoegg, J. (in press). The future looks "right": Effects of the horizontal location of advertising images on product attitude. Journal of Consumer Research.

Lecture 5. Publishing in the cognitive sciences

Required Readings:
  1. Morton, J. (1976). On recursive reference. Cognition, 4, 309.