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If so many are "few," how few are "many"?

Heim S, McMillan CT, Clark R, Golob S, Min NE, Olm C, Powers J, Grossman M - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: Likewise, in Experiment 2, subjects changed their criterion for "few," with a comparable effect on the criterion for "many" which was not mentioned.Most importantly, adapting the criterion for one quantifier (e.g., "many") also appeared to affect the reciprocal quantifier (in this case, "few").Implications of this result for psychological interventions and for investigations of the neurobiology of the language-number interface are discussed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen Aachen, Germany ; Research Centre Jülich, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-1) Jülich, Germany ; Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA) - Translational Brain Medicine Aachen, Germany.

ABSTRACT
The scope of reference of a word's meaning can be highly variable. We present a novel paradigm to investigate the flexible interpretation of word meaning. We focus on quantifiers such as "many" or "few," a class of words that depends on number knowledge but can be interpreted in a flexible manner. Healthy young adults performed a truth value judgment task on pictorial arrays of varying amounts of blue and yellow circles, deciding whether the sentence "Many/few of the circles are yellow" was an adequate description of the stimulus. The study consisted of two experiments, one focusing on "many," one on "few." Each experiment had three blocks. In a first "baseline" block, each individual's criterion for "many" and "few" was assessed. In a second "adaptation" block, subjects received feedback about their decisions that was different from their initial judgments in an effort to evaluate the flexibility of a subject's interpretation. A third "test" block assessed whether adaptation of quantifier meaning induced in block 2 then was generalized to alter a subject's baseline meaning for "many" and "few." In Experiment 1, a proportion of yellow circles as small as 40% was reinforced as "many"; in Experiment 2, a proportion of yellow circles as large as 60% was reinforced as "few." Subjects learned the new criterion for "many" in Experiment 1, which also affected their criterion for "few" although it had never been mentioned. Likewise, in Experiment 2, subjects changed their criterion for "few," with a comparable effect on the criterion for "many" which was not mentioned. Thus, the meaning of relational quantifiers like "many" and "few" is flexible and can be adapted. Most importantly, adapting the criterion for one quantifier (e.g., "many") also appeared to affect the reciprocal quantifier (in this case, "few"). Implications of this result for psychological interventions and for investigations of the neurobiology of the language-number interface are discussed.

No MeSH data available.


Schematic of the trials in blocks 1 and 3 (top) and in the adaptation block 2 (bottom).
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Figure 1: Schematic of the trials in blocks 1 and 3 (top) and in the adaptation block 2 (bottom).

Mentions: The experiment consisted of three blocks (cf. Figure 1). The first block served as a baseline block, in which the subjects' internal criteria for “many” and “few” were assessed. To this end, subjects performed the STVJ task in a total of 378 trials counterbalanced for “few” and “many” trials along with the proportion of yellow circles. After this baseline block, an adaptation block followed in which subjects received feedback for their response. In this block, we provided feedback and only stimuli with the quantifier “many” were presented. Positive feedback was given if they responded YES to pictures containing 40% or more of yellow circles, or NO to pictures with less than 40% of yellow circles. Negative feedback was given if they responded NO to pictures with 40% or more, or YES to less than 40% yellow circles. Based on previous data (Heim et al., 2012), this feedback would effectively move the internal criterion from a presumed baseline of 50-60% down to 40%. For this adaptation block for “many,” proportions of 20–70% yellow circles were used.


If so many are "few," how few are "many"?

Heim S, McMillan CT, Clark R, Golob S, Min NE, Olm C, Powers J, Grossman M - Front Psychol (2015)

Schematic of the trials in blocks 1 and 3 (top) and in the adaptation block 2 (bottom).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4400858&req=5

Figure 1: Schematic of the trials in blocks 1 and 3 (top) and in the adaptation block 2 (bottom).
Mentions: The experiment consisted of three blocks (cf. Figure 1). The first block served as a baseline block, in which the subjects' internal criteria for “many” and “few” were assessed. To this end, subjects performed the STVJ task in a total of 378 trials counterbalanced for “few” and “many” trials along with the proportion of yellow circles. After this baseline block, an adaptation block followed in which subjects received feedback for their response. In this block, we provided feedback and only stimuli with the quantifier “many” were presented. Positive feedback was given if they responded YES to pictures containing 40% or more of yellow circles, or NO to pictures with less than 40% of yellow circles. Negative feedback was given if they responded NO to pictures with 40% or more, or YES to less than 40% yellow circles. Based on previous data (Heim et al., 2012), this feedback would effectively move the internal criterion from a presumed baseline of 50-60% down to 40%. For this adaptation block for “many,” proportions of 20–70% yellow circles were used.

Bottom Line: Likewise, in Experiment 2, subjects changed their criterion for "few," with a comparable effect on the criterion for "many" which was not mentioned.Most importantly, adapting the criterion for one quantifier (e.g., "many") also appeared to affect the reciprocal quantifier (in this case, "few").Implications of this result for psychological interventions and for investigations of the neurobiology of the language-number interface are discussed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen Aachen, Germany ; Research Centre Jülich, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-1) Jülich, Germany ; Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA) - Translational Brain Medicine Aachen, Germany.

ABSTRACT
The scope of reference of a word's meaning can be highly variable. We present a novel paradigm to investigate the flexible interpretation of word meaning. We focus on quantifiers such as "many" or "few," a class of words that depends on number knowledge but can be interpreted in a flexible manner. Healthy young adults performed a truth value judgment task on pictorial arrays of varying amounts of blue and yellow circles, deciding whether the sentence "Many/few of the circles are yellow" was an adequate description of the stimulus. The study consisted of two experiments, one focusing on "many," one on "few." Each experiment had three blocks. In a first "baseline" block, each individual's criterion for "many" and "few" was assessed. In a second "adaptation" block, subjects received feedback about their decisions that was different from their initial judgments in an effort to evaluate the flexibility of a subject's interpretation. A third "test" block assessed whether adaptation of quantifier meaning induced in block 2 then was generalized to alter a subject's baseline meaning for "many" and "few." In Experiment 1, a proportion of yellow circles as small as 40% was reinforced as "many"; in Experiment 2, a proportion of yellow circles as large as 60% was reinforced as "few." Subjects learned the new criterion for "many" in Experiment 1, which also affected their criterion for "few" although it had never been mentioned. Likewise, in Experiment 2, subjects changed their criterion for "few," with a comparable effect on the criterion for "many" which was not mentioned. Thus, the meaning of relational quantifiers like "many" and "few" is flexible and can be adapted. Most importantly, adapting the criterion for one quantifier (e.g., "many") also appeared to affect the reciprocal quantifier (in this case, "few"). Implications of this result for psychological interventions and for investigations of the neurobiology of the language-number interface are discussed.

No MeSH data available.