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Disembodiment: Abstract Construal Attenuates the Influence of Contextual Bodily State in Judgment

By Sam J. Maglio and Yaacov Trope


Can the mind be divorced from the body? As evidenced by a host of findings in the traditions of grounded cognition and embodiment, sensorimotor experience can exert a powerful influence on what and how people think. The current investigation explores the conditions that temper or enable this influence, proposing that level of mental construal may moderate the role of temporary physical state in judgment. Insofar as the sensorimotor information responsible for grounding cognition constitutes an incidental and thus low-level feature of a situation, it should exert less influence from an abstract or high-level (vs. concrete) frame of mind. Two studies provide support for this prediction: Contextual bodily information affected visual length estimates (Study 1) and importance ratings (Study 2) for people led to think concretely but not for those thinking abstractly. These results suggest that high-level thought allows for consistency by buffering against the effects of transitory situational factors

Topics: construal level theory, physical body, distance, priming
Year: 2014
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