Foundations of Representation: Where Might Graphical Symbol Systems Come From?
Version of Record online: 10 FEB 2010
2007 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Volume 31, Issue 6, pages 961–987, November-December 2007
How to Cite
Garrod, S., Fay, N., Lee, J., Oberlander, J. and MacLeod, T. (2007), Foundations of Representation: Where Might Graphical Symbol Systems Come From?. Cognitive Science, 31: 961–987. doi: 10.1080/03640210701703659
- Issue online: 10 FEB 2010
- Version of Record online: 10 FEB 2010
- Received 5 April 2006; received in revised form 23 November 2006; accepted 4 January 2007
- Graphical representation;
It has been suggested that iconic graphical signs evolve into symbolic graphical signs through repeated usage. This article reports a series of interactive graphical communication experiments using a ‘pictionary’ task to establish the conditions under which the evolution might occur. Experiment 1 rules out a simple repetition based account in favor of an account that requires feedback and interaction between communicators. Experiment 2 shows how the degree of interaction affects the evolution of signs according to a process of grounding. Experiment 3 confirms the prediction that those not involved directly in the interaction have trouble interpreting the graphical signs produced in Experiment 1. On the basis of these results, this article argues that icons evolve into symbols as a consequence of the systematic shift in the locus of information from the sign to the users' memory of the sign's usage supported by an interactive grounding process.