Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Different Bodies, Different Minds

15.02.2012
We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures, absorbing information, weighing it carefully, and making thoughtful decisions.
But, as it turns out, we’re kidding ourselves. Over the past few decades, scientists have shown there are many different internal and external factors influencing how we think, feel, communicate, and make decisions at any given moment.

One particularly powerful influence may be our own bodies, according to new research reviewed in the December issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Cognitive scientist Daniel Casasanto, of The New School for Social Research, has shown that quirks of our bodies affect our thinking in predictable ways, across many different areas of life, from language to mental imagery to emotion.

People come in all different shapes and sizes, and people with different kinds of bodies think differently — an idea Casasanto has termed the ‘body-specificity hypothesis.’

One way our bodies appear to shape our decision-making is through handedness. Casasanto and his colleagues explored whether being right-handed or left-handed might influence our judgments about abstract ideas like value, intelligence, and honesty.

Through a series of experiments, they found that, in general, people tend to prefer the things that they encounter on the same side as their dominant hand. When participants were asked which of two products to buy, which of two job applicants to hire, or which of two alien creatures looked more trustworthy, right-handers routinely chose the product, person, or creature they saw on the right side of the page, while left-handers preferred the one on the left. These kinds of preferences have been found in children as young as 5 years old.

But why should our handedness matter when it comes to making such abstract evaluations? It all comes down to fluency, according to Casasanto. “People like things better when they are easier to perceive and interact with,” he says. Right-handers interact with their environment more easily on the right than on the left, so they come to associate ‘good’ with ‘right’ and ‘bad’ with ‘left.’

This preference for things on our dominant side isn’t set in stone. Right-handers who’ve had their right hands permanently handicapped start to associate ‘good’ with ‘left.’ The same goes for righties whose ‘good’ hand is temporarily handicapped in the laboratory, Casasanto and colleagues found. “After a few minutes of fumbling with their right hand, righties start to think like lefties,” says Casasanto. “If you change people’s bodies, you change their minds.”

It’s clear that this association has implications beyond the laboratory. The body-specificity hypothesis may even play a role in voting behavior – Casasanto points out that many states still use butterfly ballots, with candidates’ names listed on the left and right.

“Since about 90 percent of the population is right-handed,” says Casasanto, “people who want to attract customers, sell products, or get votes should consider that the right side of a page or a computer screen might be the ‘right’ place to be.”

For more information about this study, please contact: Daniel Casasanto at casasanto@alum.mit.edu.

Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, publishes concise reviews on the latest advances in theory and research spanning all of scientific psychology and its applications. For a copy of "Different Bodies, Different Minds: The Body Specificity of Language and Thought" and access to other Current Directions in Psychological Science research findings, please contact Divya Menon at 202-293-9300 or dmenon@psychologicalscience.org.

Divya Menon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psychologicalscience.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Drought hits rivers first and more strongly than agriculture
06.09.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

nachricht Landslides triggered by human activity on the rise
23.08.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Storage & Transport of highly volatile Gases made safer & cheaper by the use of “Kinetic Trapping"

Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles

Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...

Im Focus: Disrupting crystalline order to restore superfluidity

When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.

We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...

Im Focus: Micro energy harvesters for the Internet of Things

Fraunhofer IWS Dresden scientists print electronic layers with polymer ink

Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...

Im Focus: Dynamik einzelner Proteine

Neue Messmethode erlaubt es Forschenden, die Bewegung von Molekülen lange und genau zu verfolgen

Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...

Im Focus: Dynamics of individual proteins

New measurement method allows researchers to precisely follow the movement of individual molecules over long periods of time

The function of proteins – the molecular tools of the cell – is governed by the interplay of their structure and dynamics. Advances in electron microscopy have...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

5th International Conference on Cellular Materials (CellMAT), Scientific Programme online

02.10.2018 | Event News

Major Project: The New Silk Road

01.10.2018 | Event News

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physics: Not everything is where it seems to be

15.10.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Microfluidic molecular exchanger helps control therapeutic cell manufacturing

15.10.2018 | Life Sciences

Link between Gut Flora and Multiple Sclerosis Discovered

15.10.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>