Tight and loose are not created equal: An asymmetry underlying the representation of fit in English- and Korean-speakers

Heather M. Norbury, Sandra R. Waxman, Hyun Joo Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Research concerning the spatial dimension fit (tight versus loose) has been based on a tacit but untested assumption that the dimension fit is symmetrical, with tight- and loose-fitting relations highlighting the dimension fit with equal force. We propose a reformulation, documenting that adult speakers of English (Experiment 1) and Korean (Experiment 2) are sensitive to the dimension fit, but that their representation is asymmetric, with tight-fitting events highlighting fit with greater force than loose-fitting events. We propose that sensitivity to the dimension fit is more resilient than has previously been suggested, and that the asymmetry documented here provides a foundation upon which to pursue nuanced questions about the relationship between language and our underlying representations of space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-325
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by an IES training grant to Norbury and NIH R01 HD30410 to Waxman. Portions of this research were presented at the meetings of the Cognitive Development Society (2005) and the Cognitive Science Society (2006). We are indebted to D. Medin and E. Leddon for extensive discussions, and to S. Hespos for insights into all phases.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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