Describing and understanding the time course of the property listing task

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To study linguistically coded concepts, researchers often resort to the Property Listing Task (PLT). In a PLT, participants are asked to list properties that describe a concept (e.g., for DOG, subjects may list “is a pet”, “has four legs”, etc.). When PLT data is collected for many concepts, researchers obtain Conceptual Properties Norms (CPNs), which are used to study semantic content and as a source of control variables. Though the PLT and CPNs are widely used across psychology, only recently a model that describes the listing course of a PLT has been developed and validated. That original model describes the listing course using order of production of properties. Here we go a step beyond and validate the model using response times (RT), i.e., the time from cue onset to property listing. Our results show that RT data exhibits the same regularities observed in the previous model, but now we can also analyze the time course, i.e., dynamics of the PLT. As such, the RT validated model may be applied to study several similar memory retrieval tasks, such as the Free Listing Task, Verbal Fluidity Task, and to research related cognitive processes. To illustrate those kinds of analyses, we present a brief example of the difference in PLT’s dynamics between listing properties for abstract versus concrete concepts, which shows that the model may be fruitfully applied to study concepts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-74
Number of pages14
JournalCognitive Processing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Concepts
  • Conceptual properties norms
  • Mathematical model
  • Property listing task
  • Semantic access


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