(aka. 9 things you should know about embodied cognition)

There’s a long running argument as to whether thinking creates action (this would be the basis for a lot of marketing), or action creates thinking. Well the answer it seems is both.

There’s an emerging field of psychology called ‘embodied cognition’. This area is increasingly proving that we aren’t just walking brains but actually our bodies affect how we think. This has some pretty profound implications for how we treat human behaviour.

So we thought we’d round up a couple of findings out from the area:

1. A smile can create happiness

In a study participants who held a pencil in their teeth (engaging the smiling muscles), found cartoons funnier than those who held a pencil between their nose and upper lip (engaging frowning muscles). A smile is just as good at creating happiness as it is a result of happiness.

2. Tense to add willpower

A 2011 study found that people who tensed their muscles were able to withstand pain better, resist tempting food and pay attention to disturbing information (than those who didn’t).

3. Lean forward to think about the future

Another study found that when people think about the future, they lean forward. When they think about the past they lean back. So the future really is ahead of us.

4. Warmth makes us warmer

Ok, that sounds like a silly thing to say, but actual warmth (holding a cup of tea or coffee) makes us more predisposed to like someone or see them as trustworthy. Just think about how tetchy and hostile people can get in cold meeting rooms. Added to that when we recall happy memories we judge our environments as being warmer (than when we recall memories we judge as  being ‘cold’ – ie. where we were snubbed).

5. Use your hands to understand:

A study found that kids who gestured while learning a new concept understood it better than those who didn’t.

6. Mimic to feel what others feel

No surprises here, but when you start mimicking what others are doing you will feel (some of) what they are feeling. This is what actors do to get into character.

7. If you want someone to remember it, get them to act it out

Another study looking at memory, found that people remember more when they have to physically act it out, as opposed to reading it, writing it, discussing it etc.

8. Heaviness is important-ness:

There are some neat experiments that have proved that heaviness denotes importance. The first looked at university students and found those who were told a certain book was important to their studies, judged that book to be physically heavier than the books that were secondary to their studies. The second experiment, gave participants heavy and lighter clipboards to hold and judge unfamiliar currencies…no surprises here, those with heavier clipboards rated currencies as more valuable.

9. Clean hands create a clean mind:

In another study, participants who dwelt on personal ‘moral transgressions’ (ie. cheating or adultery) were more likely to ask for an antispectic hand wipe after, than those who were asked to recall a good deed they had done.

 So, some food for thought…