Cognitive Science 42 (2018) 524–553
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Cognitive Science published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of
Cognitive Science Society.
All rights reserved.
ISSN: 0364-0213 print / 1551-6709 online
Sculptors, Architects, and Painters Conceive of Depicted
Hugo J. Spiers
Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, College of Medicine, Biology and the Environment,
School of Psychology, Australian National University
School of Linguistics and English Language, Bangor University
Department of Experimental Psychology, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, Institute of
Behavioural Neuroscience, University College London
Received 26 February 2016; received in revised form 3 April 2017; accepted 5 May 2017
Sculptors, architects, and painters are three professional groups that require a comprehensive
understanding of how to manipulate spatial structures. While it has been speculated that they may
differ in the way they conceive of space due to the different professional demands, this has not
been empirically tested. To achieve this, we asked architects, painters, sculptors, and a control
group questions about spatially complex pictures. Verbalizations elicited were examined using
cognitive discourse analysis. We found signiﬁcant differences between each group. Only painters
shifted consistently between 2D and 3D concepts, architects were concerned with paths and spatial
physical boundedness, and sculptors produced responses that fell between architects and painters.
All three differed from controls, whose verbalizations were generally less elaborate and detailed.
Thus, for the case of sculptors, architects, and painters, profession appears to relate to a different
spatial conceptualization manifested through a systematically contrasting way of talking about
Keywords: Linguistics; Psychology; Discourse; Culture; Semantics; Concepts
Correspondence should be sent to Hugo J. Spiers, Department of Experimental Psychology, Division of
Psychology and Language Sciences, Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience, University College London, Lon-
don WC1E 6BT, UK. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
These authors contributed equally to the manuscript.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which
permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.