Sculptors, architects, and painters conceive of depicted spaces differently

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  • Claudia Cialone
    Australian National University, Canberra,
  • Thora Tenbrink
  • Hugo Spiers
Sculptors, architects and painters are three professional groups that require a comprehensive understanding of how to manipulate spatial structures. While it has been speculated that they may differ in the way they conceive of space due to the different professional demands, this has not been empirically tested. To achieve this we asked architects, painters, sculptors, and a control group questions about spatially complex pictures. Verbalizations elicited were examined using Cognitive Discourse Analysis. We found significant differences between each group. Only painters shifted consistently between 2D and 3D concepts, architects were concerned with paths and spatial physical boundedness, and sculptors produced responses that fell between architects and painters. All three differed from controls, whose verbalizations were generally less elaborate and detailed. Thus for the case of sculptors, architects and painters, profession appears to relate to a different spatial conceptualization manifested through a systematically contrasting way of talking about space.


  • Linguistics, Psychology, Discourse, Culture, Semantics, Concepts
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-553
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number2
Early online date27 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

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