Xu Xu

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wiemer-Hastings, Katja

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Mental work; Metacognition


This research investigated how mental activities such as to contemplate, to infer, and to recollect are represented in the mind and what are the potential impacts of two factors, metacognition and language ability, on mental activity representation. Experiment 1 applied multidimensional scaling analysis to similarity ratings of verb pairs. Consistent with a previous study, certainty level and information processing status emerged as two principal dimensions along which complex mental activity concepts were organized. Further, participants who were more reflective or who were more proficient in language weighted more on affect involved in mental activities. Experiment 2 evaluated participants' descriptions of mental activity concepts with latent semantic analysis and found that metacognitive tendencies differentiated participants in terms of the aspect(s) in which they expressively distinguished input function activities from output function activities. Experiment 3 used a sensibility judgment task to test whether the input/output feature is grounded in bodily movement. A mental action-sentence compatibility effect (MACE) was found, which suggested an embodied basis for the directional component (input vs. output) in the representation of mental activities. Comparatively, both high metacognitive tendencies and high language ability were associated with less interference of the MACE during online processing of mental activity concepts. The implications of findings on mental activity representation and individual differences are discussed.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [77]-81).


vii, 99 pages




Northern Illinois University

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