Chapter

The limits of covariation

Arthur M Glenberg and Sarita Mehta

in Symbols and Embodiment

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199217274
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191696060 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199217274.003.0002
The limits of covariation

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This chapter provides the first empirical test of the claim that people recover meaning from covariation alone. It examines two theories that feature covariation as an important component of learning the meaning of concepts — Launder and Dumais 1997; Rogers et al. 2004 — followed by reasons to question a reliance on covariation alone. It then presents the results of three experiments that demonstrate limits on how much meaning can be recovered from covariation alone. Given these limits, it discusses an issue central to the debate — what kind of data supports the notion that arbitrary, abstract, amodal (AAA) symbols play a role in cognition.

Keywords: covariation; meaning; arbitrary symbols; abstract symbols; amodal symbols

Chapter.  10974 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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