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Although it is generally known that children are afraid of the dark, little is known about this anxiety in adults. The current article examines whether darkness has a psychological influence on people. This is done either by manipulating the lighting of a room (Experiment 1), or by reminding people about walking down the street at night (Experiment 2). Overt, implicit, and behavioural measures are used to investigate the influence of darkness. Affective self-reports and task performance did not differ between the light and dark condition. However, gender differences revealed that women tend to be more scared of the dark than men, while as children, men and women indicated to be equally scared. Additional analyses also revealed that people’s believe in a just world does not seem to be that stable. When reminded about darkness, this beli...
When people think about highly abstract concepts, they draw upon concrete experiences to structure their thoughts. For example, black knights in fairytales are evil, and knights in shining armor are good. The sensory experiences black and white are used to represent the abstract concepts of good and evil. These and similar metaphors are not only used to intentionally communicate the meaning of abstract concepts, but also underlie abstract conceptual thought. Several views on the representation of concepts have emerged over the last decennium which all share the idea that conceptual processing is perceptual in nature. According to these grounded approaches to cognition, conceptual thought consists of representations built on concrete sensory information. Even though people cannot directly see, hear or touch abstract concepts, perceptual...
Four studies show that the abstract concept of importance is grounded in bodily experiences of weight. Participants provided judgments of importance while they held either a heavy or a light clipboard. Holding a heavy clipboard increased judgments of monetary value (Study 1) and made participants consider fair decision-making procedures to be more important (Study 2). It also caused more elaborate thinking, as indicated by higher consistency between related judgments (Study 3) and by greater polarization of agreement ratings for strong versus weak arguments (Study 4). In line with an embodied perspective on cognition, these findings suggest that, much as weight makes people invest more physical effort in dealing with concrete objects, it also makes people invest more cognitive effort in dealing with abstract issues.
People use spatial distance to talk and think about differences between concepts, and it has been argued that using space to think about different categories provides a scaffold for the categorization process. In the current study, we investigated the possibility that the distance between response keys can influence categorization times in binary classification tasks. In line with the hypothesis that distance between response keys can facilitate response selection in a key-press version of the Stroop task, our results showed that responses on incongruent Stroop trials were significantly facilitated when participants performed the Stroop task with response keys located far apart, compared with when they performed the task with response keys located close together. These results support the idea that the spatial structuring of response o...
Previous work showed that concrete experiences of weight influence people’s judgments of how important certain issues are. In line with an embodied simulation account but contrary to a metaphor-enriched perspective, this work shows that perceived importance of an object influences perceptions of weight. Two studies manipulated information about a book’s importance, after which, participants estimated its weight. Importance information caused participants to perceive the book to be heavier. This was not merely a semantic association, because weight perceptions were affected only when participants physically held the book. Furthermore, importance information influenced weight perceptions but not perceptions of monetary value. These findings extend previous research by showing that the activation direction from weight to importance can be...
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