Psychological Research

, Volume 83, Issue 5, pp 878–884 | Cite as

Binding abstract concepts

  • Tarini SinghEmail author
  • Christian Frings
  • Birte Moeller
Original Article


Binding theories assume that a stimulus and the response made to it are bound together in an event file (Hommel et al., Behav Brain Sci 24(05):849–937, 2001). Such bindings can occur even after single encounters. If the stimulus or parts of its features are repeated within the time frame in which the event file is still intact, the previously integrated response is retrieved. Stimulus–response binding can exist at a perceptual, conceptual or a response selection level (Henson et al., Trends Cogn Sci 18(7):376–384, 2014). The current experiments test whether the observed binding of concepts with responses can be extended from concrete to abstract concepts (detailedness) and whether abstract concepts can retrieve the previous response, in the absence of perceptual repetition. In the present experiment participants responded to a target feature (colour) while the detailedness of the stimulus was irrelevant to the task. The results showed a significant interaction of response relation and detailedness relation, even in the absence of perceptual repetition. This interaction is interpreted as evidence for response-retrieval due to abstract concept repetition. Thus, our data suggest a broader impact of binding mechanism on performance as even abstract concepts can be integrated into event-files and later modulate behaviour.


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Tarini Singh declares that she does not have any conflict of interest. Christian Frings declares that he has no conflict of interest. Birte Moeller declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in the study involving human participants were in accordance with the institutional ethical standards and in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cognitive Psychology UnitUniversity of TrierTrierGermany

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