Reversing the Mental Timeline through a Leftward Chronological Activity

Research has shown that people use conceptual metaphors to represent abstract concepts. English speakers conceptualize time as space via the mental timeline, representing the past on the left and the future on the right. One's orientation of the mental timeline (e.g., left-right, right-left) is somewhat flexible. The direction of the mental timeline can be reversed by reading mirror-reversed text (Casasanto & Bottini, 2014). This study seeks to reverse subjects' mental timeline using non-linguistic stimuli. Participants will chronologically order photos either leftward or rightward. Sorting direction serves a priming task, which may orient the mental timeline codirectionally. Subjects' mental timeline will be measured via response time on a temporal sequence judgment task. Subjects will be presented with two images of a celebrity at different points in time and indicate whether the second photo was taken before or after the first by using keys on the left or right of a keyboard. The meaning of these keys will be manipulated in two phases: congruent (left-before, right-after), incongruent (the reverse). The experiment is a 2 (prime: leftward, rightward) x 2 (congruity: congruent, incongruent) mixed design. The prime condition will be manipulated between subjects. The congruity conditions will be manipulated within subjects. Subjects in the rightward prime condition are expected to have faster response times on congruent trials than incongruent trials. However, if the leftward prime can reverse the mental timeline, then "incongruent" trials are expected to yield faster response times than congruent trials.


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