Perception vs Reality: Verbal Codes of Cognitive Effects (basing on European languages)

Authors: Nataliia Slukhai (Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine)
Sergii Slukhai (Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine)
Speakers: Nataliia Slukhai, Sergii Slukhai
Topic: Cognitive Anthropology and Language
COMELA 2021 Poster


Language as an intermediary between humans and their surroundings embodies both a high creative potential and onthogenetically predetermined excesses of the human psyche. This is reflected in the phenomenology of cognitive effects (Kahneman D., Tversky A., O’Brien J. F., Page S., Zheng R. Z., etc) – uncontrollable illusions, distortions bearing witness to both the brain’s unplowed capacity in subconscious learning, but also behavioral excess.

In economics it is the frame effect that is significant. Its verbal codes, used in marketing (where language is tailored to elicit an economic activity that is often not in the buyer’s best interest), is also aided by various verbal tools to present economic choice (disorientation, nominalization, generalization, absolutization, modal operators, non-reference names, superfluous grammatical constructions, run-on sentences, scientific terminology etc). All of the above complicate the processing of information, generate frustration and wreak havoc in how economic data is perceived. Thus, there is room for deliberate management of human behavior.

Verbal codes of cognitive effects (both omitting negatives and projecting the illusion of positives) are extremely significant in politics. For example, in Ukraine the party which won both presidential and parliamentary elections is ‘Servant of the people’. This name was received positively due to its appealing to the longed-for idea of politicians serving society rather than themselves. Other forces were presented as anti-popular, pursuing economic gains; and through labeling were bundled into the ‘oldpolitician’ (sic) category. Another verbal bringer of success was the ‘We are for peace’ motto, which was platformed to categorize the other parties as proponents of war. ‘Peace’ could only be perceived positively with the prosperity and lack of human suffering; however, political forces advocating Ukraine’s independence through whatever means, also military, were verbally forced to wear the robes of war-mongers. Other verbal codes involved: the stick and carrot effect, inaccessibility, intragroup favoritism, hostile mass media, player illusion, negativity bias and others. All serve to show that cognitive effects, through language, affect how information reaches and (de)incentivizes recipients.

In language learning cognitive effects open new possibilities in creating methods for fast-track learning via associative-dissociative minimal dictionaries involving two or more related languages.

A profound study of the cognitive effect verbal codes will help achieve a balance between the challenges of today and our response. Processing and utilizing new cognitive effects will be a contribution to strengthening the human cognitive apparatus.

Keywords: cognitive effect, patterns of behavior, underconsciousness level, suggestive linguistics, verbal code