The Abstraction enables us to categorize experience, learn new information, and form judgments. Language arguably plays a crucial role in abstraction, providing us with words that vary in specificity (e.g., highly generic: tool vs. highly specific: muffler). Yet, human-generated ratings of word specificity are virtually absent. We hereby present a dataset of specificity ratings collected from Italian native speakers on a set of around 1K Italian words, using the Best-Worst Scaling method. Through a series of correlation studies, we show that human-generated specificity ratings have low correlation coefficients with specificity metrics extracted automatically from WordNet, suggesting that WordNet does not reflect the hierarchical relations of category inclusion present in the speakers' minds. Moreover, our ratings show low correlations with concreteness ratings, suggesting that the variables Specificity and Concreteness capture two separate aspects involved in abstraction and that specificity may need to be controlled for when investigating conceptual concreteness. Finally, through a series of regression studies we show that specificity explains a unique amount of variance in decision latencies (lexical decision task), suggesting that this variable has theoretical value. The results are discussed in relation to the concept and investigation of abstraction.

Specificity ratings for Italian data

Bolognesi, Marianna Marcella
Primo
;
2023

Abstract

The Abstraction enables us to categorize experience, learn new information, and form judgments. Language arguably plays a crucial role in abstraction, providing us with words that vary in specificity (e.g., highly generic: tool vs. highly specific: muffler). Yet, human-generated ratings of word specificity are virtually absent. We hereby present a dataset of specificity ratings collected from Italian native speakers on a set of around 1K Italian words, using the Best-Worst Scaling method. Through a series of correlation studies, we show that human-generated specificity ratings have low correlation coefficients with specificity metrics extracted automatically from WordNet, suggesting that WordNet does not reflect the hierarchical relations of category inclusion present in the speakers' minds. Moreover, our ratings show low correlations with concreteness ratings, suggesting that the variables Specificity and Concreteness capture two separate aspects involved in abstraction and that specificity may need to be controlled for when investigating conceptual concreteness. Finally, through a series of regression studies we show that specificity explains a unique amount of variance in decision latencies (lexical decision task), suggesting that this variable has theoretical value. The results are discussed in relation to the concept and investigation of abstraction.
2023
Bolognesi, Marianna Marcella; Caselli, Tommaso
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/921071
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