Using abstract concepts is a hallmark of human cognition. While multiple kinds of abstract concepts exist, they so far have been conceived as a unitary kind in opposition to concrete ones. Here, we focus on Institutional concepts, like justice or norm, investigating their fine-grained differences with respect to other kinds of abstract and concrete concepts, and exploring whether their representation varies according to individual proficiency. Specifically, we asked experts and non-experts in the legal field to evaluate four kinds of concepts (i.e., institutional, theoretical, food, artefact) on 16 dimensions: abstractness-concreteness; imageability; contextual availability; familiarity; age of acquisition; modality of acquisition; social valence; social metacognition; arousal; valence; interoception; metacognition; perceptual modality strength; body-object interaction; mouth and hand involvement. Results showed that Institutional concepts rely more than other categories on linguistic/social and inner experiences and are primarily characterized by positive valence. In addition, a more subtle characterization of the institutional domain emerged: Pure-institutional concepts (e.g., parliament) were perceived as more similar to technical tools, while Meta-institutional concepts (e.g., validity) were characterized mainly by abstract components. Importantly, for what concerns individual proficiency, we found that the level of expertise affects conceptual representation. Only law-experts associated Institutional concepts with exteroceptive and emotional experiences, showing also a more grounded and situated representation of the two types of institutional concepts. Overall, our finding highlights the richness and flexibility of abstract concepts and suggests that they differ in the degree of embodiment and grounding. Implications of the results for current theories of conceptual representation and social institutions are discussed.

Is justice grounded? How expertise shapes conceptual representation of institutional concepts

Villani C.
;
D'Ascenzo S.;Borghi A. M.;Roversi C.;Benassi M.;Lugli L.
2021

Abstract

Using abstract concepts is a hallmark of human cognition. While multiple kinds of abstract concepts exist, they so far have been conceived as a unitary kind in opposition to concrete ones. Here, we focus on Institutional concepts, like justice or norm, investigating their fine-grained differences with respect to other kinds of abstract and concrete concepts, and exploring whether their representation varies according to individual proficiency. Specifically, we asked experts and non-experts in the legal field to evaluate four kinds of concepts (i.e., institutional, theoretical, food, artefact) on 16 dimensions: abstractness-concreteness; imageability; contextual availability; familiarity; age of acquisition; modality of acquisition; social valence; social metacognition; arousal; valence; interoception; metacognition; perceptual modality strength; body-object interaction; mouth and hand involvement. Results showed that Institutional concepts rely more than other categories on linguistic/social and inner experiences and are primarily characterized by positive valence. In addition, a more subtle characterization of the institutional domain emerged: Pure-institutional concepts (e.g., parliament) were perceived as more similar to technical tools, while Meta-institutional concepts (e.g., validity) were characterized mainly by abstract components. Importantly, for what concerns individual proficiency, we found that the level of expertise affects conceptual representation. Only law-experts associated Institutional concepts with exteroceptive and emotional experiences, showing also a more grounded and situated representation of the two types of institutional concepts. Overall, our finding highlights the richness and flexibility of abstract concepts and suggests that they differ in the degree of embodiment and grounding. Implications of the results for current theories of conceptual representation and social institutions are discussed.
Villani C.; D'Ascenzo S.; Borghi A.M.; Roversi C.; Benassi M.; Lugli L.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Villani_Article_Is Justice Grounded_Published.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipo: Versione (PDF) editoriale
Licenza: Licenza per Accesso Aperto. Creative Commons Attribuzione (CCBY)
Dimensione 912.32 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
912.32 kB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/819045
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? 3
  • Scopus 5
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 4
social impact