Spatial Biases in Scene Construction
Previous research has observed spatial biases during mental model (scene) construction that correspond with one's reading and writing direction (Maass & Russo, 2003). For this reason, action can be envisioned as moving from left-to-right (English) or right-to-left (Arabic). Another factor is a temporal regularity that coincides with word order. For example, if the grammatical subject is mentioned before the grammatical object like in the sentence The boy kicked the ball, then boy would most likely be encoded before ball (Maass et al., 2013).
English has a fairly strict Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) word order except when it comes to passive sentence constructions. To test the power of script direction and word order during scene construction, I asked 13 adult participants to draw on a 3x5 notecard the following sentence: The cat was chased by the dog. The sentence was only presented orally. The following table presents the results:
Participant # Order & Directionality
cat-left, dog-right dog-left, cat-right LR movement RL movement
1 x x
2 x x
3 x x
4 x x
5 x x
6 x x
7 x x
8 x x
9 x x
10 x* x*
11 x x
12 x x
13 x x
*This response produced an inaccurate depiction of the scene.
Below are some examples of participants' picture drawings (level of detail was left up to the participant).