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Embodiment in Attitudes, Social Perception, and Emotion



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Personality and Social Psychology Review 2005 Vol 9 No 3 184 211 Copyright 2005 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc Embodiment in Attitudes Social Perception and Emotion Paula M Niedenthal Laboratory in Social and Cognitive Psychology CNRS and University of Clermont Ferrand France Lawrence W Barsalou Department of Psychology Emory University Piotr Winkielman Department of Psychology University of California San Diego Silvia Krauth Gruber and Fran ois Ric Laboratory in Social Psychology Universit Ren Descartes Paris Findings in the social psychology literatures on attitudes social perception and emotion demonstrate that social information processing involves embodiment where embodiment refers both to actual bodily states and to simulations of experience in the brain s modality specific systems for perception action and introspection We show that embodiment underlies social information processing when the perceiver interacts with actual social objects online cognition and when the perceiver represents social objects in their absence offline cognition Although many empirical demonstrations of social embodiment exist no particularly compelling account of them has been offered We propose that theories of embodied cognition such as the Perceptual Symbol Systems PSS account Barsalou 1999 explain and integrate these findings and that they also suggest exciting new directions for research We compare the PSS account to a variety of related proposals and show how it addresses criticisms that have previously posed problems for the general embodiment approach Consider the following findings Wells and Petty 1980 reported that nodding the head as in agreement while listening to persuasive messages led to more positive attitudes toward the message content than shaking the head as in disagreement Cacioppo Priester and Berntson 1993 observed that novel Chinese ideographs presented during arm flexion an action associated with approach were subsequently evaluated more favorably than



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