ResearchPad - Linguistics and Language Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Implicit action encoding influences personal-trait judgments]]>

When an observed action (e.g., kicking) is compatible to a to be produced action (e.g., a foot-key response as compared to a finger-key response), then the self-produced action is more fluent, that is, it is more accurate and faster. A series of experiments explore the notion that vision–action compatibility effects can influence personal-trait judgments. It is demonstrated that when an observed individual carries out an action that is compatible with the participants’ response, (1) this individual is identified more fluently, and (2) the observed individual’s personality is attributed with the properties of the observed action. For example, if it is easier to identify one individual with a foot-response when he is seen kicking a ball, as compared to typing, he is perceived to be more ‘sporty’. In contrast, if it is easier to identify one individual with a finger response when he is seen typing as compared to kicking a ball, he is associated with the ‘academic’ trait. These personal-trait judgment effects can be observed with explicit measures, where participants are asked to rate the sporty/academic nature of the person on a scale. They are also obtained when implicit measures are taken in a priming task, where participants are never explicitly asked to rate the personalities of the individuals. A control experiment rules out that these personal-trait effects are merely due to an association of motor responses (foot, finger) to individuals while identifying them, but that these effects depend on a prior manipulation of vision–action fluency.

<![CDATA[Genome-Wide Association Study of Receptive Language Ability of 12-Year-Olds]]>


Researchers have previously shown that individual differences in measures of receptive language ability at age 12 are highly heritable. In the current study, the authors attempted to identify some of the genes responsible for the heritability of receptive language ability using a genome-wide association approach.


The authors administered 4 Internet-based measures of receptive language (vocabulary, semantics, syntax, and pragmatics) to a sample of 2,329 twelve-year-olds for whom DNA and genome-wide genotyping were available. Nearly 700,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 1 million imputed SNPs were included in a genome-wide association analysis of receptive language composite scores.


No SNP associations met the demanding criterion of genome-wide significance that corrects for multiple testing across the genome (p < 5 × 10–8). The strongest SNP association did not replicate in an additional sample of 2,639 twelve-year-olds.


These results indicate that individual differences in receptive language ability in the general population do not reflect common genetic variants that account for more than 3% of the phenotypic variance. The search for genetic variants associated with language skill will require larger samples and additional methods to identify and functionally characterize the full spectrum of risk variants.

<![CDATA[Optimistic biases in observational learning of value]]>

Action-outcome contingencies can be learnt either by active trial-and-error, or vicariously, by observing the outcomes of actions performed by others. The extant literature is ambiguous as to which of these modes of learning is more effective, as controlled comparisons of operant and observational learning are rare. Here, we contrasted human operant and observational value learning, assessing implicit and explicit measures of learning from positive and negative reinforcement. Compared to direct operant learning, we show observational learning is associated with an optimistic over-valuation of low-value options, a pattern apparent both in participants’ choice preferences and their explicit post-hoc estimates of value. Learning of higher value options showed no such bias. We suggest that such a bias can be explained as a tendency for optimistic underestimation of the chance of experiencing negative events, an optimism repressed when information is gathered through direct operant learning.