Do Language Effects on Attention Persist in Complex Task Contexts?

AbstractIs the influence of language on attention previously found in controlled, single-task lab contexts reduced or absent when other factors (i.e. goals) influence attention, as in everyday life? The current studies examined whether language effects on eye-movements and recall emerge in richer task conditions. Experiment 1 examined English speakers’ use of agentive/non-agentive language during scene description on memory for the agent, similar to Fausey and Boroditsky (2011) while altering scene complexity and adding eye-tracking. Experiment 2 contrasted the standard “describe” task with one more typical of everyday scene processing: predicting what happens next. Eye-tracking results from Experiment 1 support an influence of language on distribution of attention. However, the absence of a significant memory difference in both experiments suggests that the language effect is not robust enough to have a meaningful impact on memory in rich task conditions. Ultimately, the data suggested even the original effects are difficult to obtain.

Return to previous page