The Cognitive Functions of Linguistic Categories in Describing Persons: Social Cognition and Language

Abstract: Three studies examined the cognitive implications of linguistic categories in the interpersonal domain. On the basis of conceptual and linguistic criteria, we advance a four-level classification that distinguishes between verbs and adjectives in the interpersonal domain. These four levels (in terms of increasing abstractness) are descriptive action verbs, interpretive action verbs, state verbs, and adjectives. Results from the first two studies reveal a systematic relation between the respective linguistic category and the temporal stability of the quality expressed in the sentence, the sentence’s informativeness about the subject, the sentence’s verifiability and disputability, and the sentence’s informativeness about a specific situation. Results from the last study support the four-level linguistic classification and its differential cognitive functions. Implications for social cognition and personality research are discussed.

Reference Information

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Method(s) Used in Paper

Linguistic Category Model

by Gun Semin and Klaus Fiedler.
Published in "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology" in 1988.

APA-Format Citation

Semin, G. R., & Fiedler, K. (1988). The cognitive functions of linguistic categories in describing persons: Social cognition and language. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(4), 558-568.