Linguistic asymmetry, egocentric anchoring, and sensory modality as factors for the observed association between time and space perception

E Hang Choy, Him Cheung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Temporal and spatial representations have been consistently shown to be inextricably intertwined. However, the exact nature of time–space mapping remains unknown. On the one hand, the conceptual metaphor theory postulates unilateral, asymmetric mapping of time onto space, that is, time is perceived in spatial terms but the perception of space is relatively independent of time. On the other hand, a theory of magnitude assumes bilateral and symmetric interactions between temporal and spatial perceptions. In the present paper, we argue that the concepts of linguistic asymmetry, egocentric anchoring, and sensory modality provide potential explanations for why evidences favoring both asymmetry and symmetry have been obtained. We first examine the asymmetry model and suggest that language plays a critical role in it. Next, we discuss the symmetry model in relation to egocentric anchoring and sensory modality. We conclude that since these three factors may jointly account for some conflicting past results regarding the strength and directionality of time–space mapping, they should be taken into serious consideration in future test designs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-490
Number of pages12
JournalCognitive Processing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Magnitude
  • Metaphoric structuring
  • Space representation
  • Time perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence

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