Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Buchanan, Lori


abstractness, concreteness, iconicity, N400, N700, semantic neighbours

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Malhi (2015) found a reverse concreteness, or abstractness, effect for word pairs in an iconicity judgment task. Per Vigliocco et al.’s (2009) theory of embodied abstract semantics, Malhi and Buchanan (2017) hypothesized that participants were taking a visualization approach (time-costly) towards the concrete word pairs and an emotional valence approach (time-efficient) towards the abstract word pairs. It was also hypothesized that the abstractness effect emerged not by considering single words in isolation but rather by considering the relationship between them. The goal of the present study was to test these hypotheses and to further investigate this reverse concreteness, or abstractness, effect. Results generally provided support for these hypotheses. An event-related potential (ERP) experiment revealed a dissociation between behavioural abstractness and neural concreteness. The results are interpreted using a proposed theory of flexible abstractness and concreteness effects (FACE).