Publication details [#11429]

Wisniewski, Edward J. 1998. Property instantiation in conceptual combination. Memory & Cognition 26 (6) : 1330–1347. 18 pp.


In four experiments, I examined how a property in one concept is transferred to a second concept during conceptual combination. The results suggest that people instantiate properties: that is, they use a specific representation of a property in the modifier concept to construct a new version of that property that is specific to the combination. If people are instantiating properties, then the modifier property should match its counterpart in the combination to the extent that the modifier and head noun are similar. This observation leads to a variety of predictions supported by the experiments) about interpretations of similar and dissimilar combinations and about plausibility, preference, and similarity judgments associated with such interpretations. The results argue against an alternative view of transfer that posits that, in general, abstract representations of properties are copied from one concept to another. In this paper, I describe various processing accounts of instantiation and discuss the implications of the instantiation view for theories of metaphor, conceptual combination, and induction. (Edward Wisniewski)