Semester of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



This study utilized four experiments to investigate the extent to which native language influences memory in accordance with linguistic relativity. In Experiment 1, monolingual English speakers and Spanish/English bilinguals were divided into a verbal encoding condition and a verbal suppression encoding condition and watched motion events of low or high physical salience. Participants engaged in a recognition memory task followed by an event memory similarity judgment task. In Experiment 2, native monolingual English speakers were divided into an English-like (or manner-on-verb) description group, a Spanish-like (or path-on-verb) description group, mimicking the language groups of Experiment 1 respectively, and a verbal suppression encoding condition. Participants engaged in the same tasks as in Experiment 1 but heard predetermined event descriptions rather than formulating their own. Experiments 3 and 4 were conceptual replications of 1 and 2, respectively, but used different stimuli to address a limitation of the stimuli from experiments 1 and 2 and manipulated ease of expression rather than salience. Experiments 1 and 2 yielded unexpected results overall, but the most unexpected finding was the influence of salience on recognition memory and similarity judgments. We did not expect salience to influence task performance. Participants had better recognition memory with normal stimuli and chose more manner-matched salient stimuli in the similarity judgment task. Experiments 3 and 4 showed evidence to support that the ease with which manner and path components may be verbally expressed (ease of expression) influences encoding, such that memory for motion events is significantly greater when ease of expression is low in difficulty. The results also indicate that language does influence memory, but it is the grammar structure used to encode motion events that influences memory and perception rather than the grammar structure of one’s native language.



Committee Chair

McDonald, Janet L.