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Cognitive reference point. Reporter : Sherry Professor : Daphne Yuan. Rosch. Focal Colors Line orientation Numbers. Focal Colors. People across cultures consistently choose focal colors(i.e. basic colors) as prototypes. Shows that certain colors are salient in people’s mind.

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cognitive reference point

Cognitive reference point

Reporter : Sherry

Professor : Daphne Yuan

  • Focal Colors
  • Line orientation
  • Numbers
focal colors
Focal Colors
  • People across cultures consistently choose focal colors(i.e. basic colors) as prototypes.
  • Shows that certain colors are salient in people’s mind.

Which slices look like they could be

composed of two or more colors ?

line orientation
Line orientation
  • vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines would serve as reference orientations.

The results in this domain were less uniform than in the case of color.

  • expected multiples of 10 to fulfill the CRP function.

10 50 100 1000

17 36 164 1027

The top one is faster to into to people’s mind

elaborations of the roschean model
Elaborations of the Roschean model
  • This section briefly reviews some of the relevant studies in cognitive and social psychology, behavioral economics, marketing and management research.
similarity judgments
Similarity judgments
  • It is the most straightforward application of the Roschean CRP model
  • People usually have one preferred direction of comparison. They usually compare a less prominent item to a more prominent item (CRP).
similarity judgments1
Similarity judgments
  • Example (Tversky, 1977) :
  • A CRP-item is preferred in the base-position (i.e. standard of comparison), whereas a non-CRP element is generally used as a target of comparison.
  • China is similar to North Korea
  • North Korea is similar to China

is similar to

similarity judgments2
Similarity judgments
  • Example (Tversky, 1977) :
  • A CRP-item is preferred in the base-position (i.e. standard of comparison), whereas a non-CRP element is generally used as a target of comparison.
  • China is similar to North Korea
  • North Korea is similar to China

is similar to

spatial cognition
Spatial cognition
  • It were shown to be crucial both in child development and in the learning of new environments by adults.
  • For example, When getting to know a new city, people would usually start by memorizing the most salient points.

Paths develop as elaborations of the landmark network.

spatial cognition1
Spatial cognition
  • Locations without a reference point status are usually judged nearer to spatial reference points than are reference points to non-CRP locations.
  • We can tentatively conclude that despite being diverse in form and function, all reference points seem to display the kind of asymmetry.
judgments of symbolic magnitude
Judgments of symbolic magnitude
  • It describes the way people compare two items in terms of magnitude (e.g. magnitude of digits, size of objects, geo
  • graphic distances).
  • The reference point can be indicated explicitly, as in Choose the stimulus closer to X.
judgments of symbolic magnitude1
Judgments of symbolic magnitude
  • For example, it has been argued that the question Which is larger may trigger the upper bound as a reference point, whereas the question Which is smaller is likely to activate the lower bound to which the stimuli will be compared.
judgments of symbolic magnitude2
Judgments of symbolic magnitude
  • Reaction times increase when people have to judge which of the two large objects is smaller or which of the two small objects is larger.
  • This is an instantiation of the so-called semantic congruity effect.
social judgments
Social judgments
  • People usually judge others as more similar to themselves.
  • The subjects in their experiments rated a friend as more similar to themselves than vice versa.
  • Social stereotypes usually function as reference points for making judgements about the self.
  • However, the self serves as a CRP for social stereotypes with few known attributes.
  • Such reference points include beliefs, language, facial expressions, country of origin and gestures.
behavioural economics
Behavioural economics
  • Kahneman(1992) applied this analysis to the study of negotiation behavior.
  • He has shown that depending upon the CRP chosen in negotiations, people will evaluate the same result as either gain or loss.
  • It is therefore possible to change the result of negotiations by manipulating reference points.
marketing aresearch
marketing aresearch
  • The notion of a reference point also plays an important role in marketing research, where it is sometimes called reference price.
  • This internal reference price can be adjusted, for instance, by broadening price dispersion or manipulating confidence associated with price expectations
  • An unrelated product stored in the short-term memory can affect the decision to buy a target product.
marketing research
marketing research
  • Example :
    • if before buying a cooker you encountered a price of a BMW, your willingness to pay for the cooker will increase for even an expensive cooker will still be a lot cheaper than a BMW.

willingness to pay ↑

management studies
Management studies
  • Prospect Theory with its inventory of reference points has also been applied to thestudies of human organizational behavior in work settings.
  • Goals function as reference points and alter the value ofoutcomes.
  • This explains why people strive harder when they have a specific goal,such as finishing the paper by the end of the month.
ubiquity of reference point reasoning
Ubiquity of reference-point reasoning
  • Reference-point reasoning observed across various kinds of human activity is the asymmetrybetween reference and non-reference items.
  • Given the ubiquity of CRPs, we have reasons to expect that language also involvesa lot of reference-point reasoning.
  • language is not a separate module, but anintegral part of cognition, whose organizing principles from the general propertiesof the human mind.
reference point constructions in cognitive grammar
Reference-point constructions in Cognitive Grammar
  • Possessives
  • Deixis
  • Metonymy
  • Further applications

Figure 2.1. Reference-point relation.

C – conceptualiser, R – reference point,

D – dominion, T – target (Langacker 2001: 21)

a reference point is a cognitively salient item that gives mentalaccess to a less salient target. The set of possible targets that can be accessedthrough a particular reference point is called dominion.


Figure 2.1. Reference-point relation.

C – conceptualiser, R –girl,

D – dominion, T – neck

Therefore, the girl’s neck is felicitous and the neck’s girl is odd.

  • One of the current topical issues is the status of the reference point with respect to the target.
  • An important contribution of the reference-point approach to the study of possessives is that it provides a unified account of numerous relations expressed by means of a possessive construction. (ownership, kinship, part-whole, agent process, experience-happening relationship)
topic construction
Topic construction
  • extends the reference-point model from the analysis of possessives to a wider range of grammatical phenomena that calls reference-point constructions. One of these is a topic construction.
  • Example :

Consider the following example from Japanese:


sakanawa tai gaoisii

fish TOP red.snapper SUBJ delicious

(2) On the table sat a nervous calico cat

  • The function of a deictic word in specifying its referent in a giving context.

(3) Ted scratched his nose, and so didJimmy.

(4) # He saw a skunk near Ralph.

(5) # Near Ralph, he saw a skunk

anaphoric relation

Pronouns, are usually interpreted in the context of the dominion specified by the nominal subject.

  • the entity that is normally designated by a metonymic expression serves as a reference point affording mental access to the desired target.
  • (6) She bought Lakoff and Johnson, used and in paper, for just, $1.50
  • (7) The dog bit the cat.
  • (8) Don is likely to leave.

easily provide a mental path to a target


Ref. point

cognitive status of reference point constructions
Cognitive status of reference-point constructions
  • are we dealing with the same cognitive phenomenon or with different phenomena referred to by the same term – reference points?
  • In the first place, places reference-point constructions in the same group of phenomena.
  • In the second place, defined CRPs as cognitively salient items that other items are seen in relation to.
  • In the third place, the crucial feature of a reference-point relationship on both the Roschean and the Langackerian account is the asymmetry between CRPs and non-CRPs.
reference points in lexical semantics round numbers
Reference points in lexical semantics _Round numbers
  • Most prominent numbers are likely to be used in approximative expressions, such as There were thirty to forty birds in the tree.
  • Approximativesusually involve round numbers, such as 10, 20, 25, 50, and 100.
reference points in lexical semantics spatial vocabularies
Reference points in lexical semantics _Spatial vocabularies
  • Using the notion of reference points is the investigation of spatial vocabularies.
  • Languages differ in how they code the relation between a target object and a reference point.

vanuit :

‘out of’ signals the presence of contact with the reference point at the initial state of the target,

tot bij :

‘until, as far as’ codes resulting proximity without contact

reference points in lexical semantics prototypes
Reference points in lexical semantics _Prototypes
  • Prototypes may indeed be taken as a prime example of reference points providing mental access to less salient, non-prototypical entities.
  • Cognitive reference points have been shown to play a major role in various aspects of human cognition.
  • Despite the growing interest of psychologists in reference-point reasoning, the notion of CRPs has generated relatively little interest in linguistics.
  • In this thesis, I will elaborate the CRP model by extrapolating it to cognitive lexical semantics.