The linguistic looming effect

Antonio M. Díez-Álamo, Arthur M. Glenberg, Emiliano Díez, María A. Alonso, Angel Fernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We describe a new phenomenon related to language comprehension and memory: the Linguistic Looming Effect (LLE). The perceptual looming bias is the finding that objects approaching the self grab attention and generate quick adaptive action, such as avoidance of the object (Neuhoff, 2018). The LLE is the finding that sentences that describe concrete objects or abstract entities moving toward the self are processed more quickly and remembered better than sentences describing motion of objects or abstract entities away from the self. The first three experiments of the present research describe the LLE as observed in experiments designed to examine the action-sentence compatibility effect, or ACE (Glenberg & Kaschak, 2002) and its consequences for long-term memory. The fourth experiment was specifically designed to generate an LLE in the absence of two potential confounds, and the results again showed the effect. The fifth experiment served to replicate the effect and to analyze its occurrence when sentences with a third-person perspective were used. The LLE is discussed in relation to prior empirical findings, and it is interpreted in the light of theoretical frameworks related to the embodied approach to cognition and the role played by the self in the processing and remembering of information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104147
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Embodied cognition
  • Language comprehension
  • Linguistic looming effect
  • Memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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