Can a person be bright? Cold? Soft? Sweet? When the psychologists Solomon Asch and Harriet Nerlove posed these questions to a group of 3- and 4-year-olds in 1960, the response, on the whole, was skeptical. “Poor people are cold because they have no clothes,” one child said. By second or third grade, though, children could understand the psychological meanings of these so-called double-function terms and how they relate to the physical world .
“Embodied cognition” is a subset of psychological research that explores the way physical sensations can evoke abstract concepts. Take warmth, for example. In one study from 2008, a research assistant asked subjects to hold her cup of coffee (either hot or iced) and then had them fill out a personality-impression questionnaire. Subjects who had held a hot cup judged others to be more caring and generous than did those who had held a cold one .
Read the whole story: The Atlantic
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