There is a lot of talk these days about a fascinating idea called embodied cognition. What is it exactly? In this lively interview I talk with two people who are actively looking into this question. We discuss how the body and mind “talk” to each other when baseball players catch fly balls and what role psychology plays in the design of robots.
Embodiment is the radical hypothesis that the brain is not the sole resource we have available to us to solve problems. Our bodies, and the meaning-filled perception of the world they allow, do much of the work required to achieve our goals, and this simple fact changes utterly what our theories of ‘cognition’ will look like. – From the blog post, “Embodied cognition is not what you think it is” by Andrew Wilson and Sabrina Galonka
What is Embodied Cognition?
- First I recommend reading Andrew Wilson and Sabrina Galonka’s blog: Notes from Two Scientific Psychologists.
- You can also catch Andrew and Sabrina on their new blog on the Psychology Today site. Their blog is called Cognition Without Borders.
- I follow Andrew and Sabrina on twitter. I highly recommended as well.
- Andrew and Sabrina recommend this book:
- A Brief Guide to Embodied Cognition: Why You Are Not Your Brain from Scientific American
- Here is the research that was discussed in this episode, Eerland, A., Guadalupe, T., & Zwaan, R. (2011). Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller: Posture-Modulated Estimation Psychological Science, 22 (12), 1511-1514 DOI: 10.1177/0956797611420731 and here is the critique of that paper by Andrew and Sabrina: Leaning to the left makes you believe odd things about embodied cognition
From the abstract of “Leaning to the left….“: “In two experiments, we investigated whether body posture influences people’s estimation of quantities. According to the mental-number-line theory, people mentally represent numbers along a line with smaller numbers on the left and larger numbers on the right. We hypothesized that surreptitiously making people lean to the right or to the left would affect their quantitative estimates. Participants answered estimation questions while standing on a Wii Balance Board. Posture was manipulated within subjects so that participants answered some questions while they leaned slightly to the left, some questions while they leaned slightly to the right, and some questions while they stood upright. Crucially, participants were not aware of this manipulation. Estimates were significantly smaller when participants leaned to the left than when they leaned to the right.”
- Miles, L., Nind, L., Macrae, C. (2010). Moving Through Time. Psychological Science, 21 (2), 222-223 DOI: 10.1177/0956797609359333
- Andrew’s critique of the “Moving Through Time” study: “Moving Through Time” and embodied cognition
From the critique of the Leaning to the Left article by Andrew and Sabrina: “This paper is not an example of embodied cognition, and worse, there are methodological and analysis flaws throughout the paper that make the data fairly uninterpretable. But, just like Miles et al (2010) this effect is now in the literature and in the popular press and there’s no obvious way to kill it….The popular coverage of papers like this, and the general lack of interest in follow-up on the internet, helps make these ideas spread and never get corrected.