How we think: Grounded cognition shakes up psychology

So if someone’s describing a scene to you, and they’re describing how it looks and how it sounds and how it smells, you’re actually representing how it looks, sounds, and smells in your sensory systems…

And then just the state of your body is also very important… So if you’re asked to evaluate a piece of writing and your body’s in a state associated with physical affect, you think it’s a good piece of writing. If you’re / it’s in a state that’s associated with negative affect, you think it’s a poor state of writing…[I]f you’re nodding positively or shaking your head negatively, this affects not only your emotion but your cognition, how you evaluate things…All the states of your body affect how you think.

People are showing that the environment affects how you think. So if somebody hands you a glass a drink that’s cold and you’re asked to then evaluate say a piece a writing, you’re more negative than if someone hands you a warm drink. If you’re in a colder room, you’re more negative than if you’re in a slightly warmer room.

So on all these things influence cognition in ways that have never been anticipated, and kind of bringing home the theme that when one studies cognition, you have to start study it grounded in all these different systems.


Lawrence Barsalou (Emory University) | How We Think: Grounded cognition shakes up psychology


Lawrence Barsalou | Grounded cognition