Remember hard but think softly: Metaphorical effects of hardness/softness on cognitive functions

Xie, Jiushu, Lu, Zhi, Wang, Ruiming and Cai, Zhenguang G. (2016) Remember hard but think softly: Metaphorical effects of hardness/softness on cognitive functions. Frontiers in Psychology, 7. ISSN 1664-1078

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Previous studies have found that bodily stimulation, such as hardness biases social judgment and evaluation via metaphorical association; however, it remains unclear whether bodily stimulation also affects cognitive functions, such as memory and creativity. The current study used metaphorical associations between “hard” and “rigid” and between “soft” and “flexible” in Chinese, to investigate whether the experience of hardness affects cognitive functions whose performance depends prospectively on rigidity (memory) and flexibility (creativity). In Experiment 1, we found that Chinese-speaking participants performed better at recalling previously memorized words while sitting on a hard-surface stool (the hard condition) than a cushioned one (the soft condition). In Experiment 2, participants sitting on a cushioned stool outperformed those sitting on a hard-surface stool on a Chinese riddle task, which required creative/flexible thinking, but not on an analogical reasoning task, which required both rigid and flexible thinking. The results suggest the hardness experience affects cognitive functions that are metaphorically associated with rigidity or flexibility. They support the embodiment proposition that cognitive functions and representations can be grounded in bodily states via metaphorical associations.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2016 Xie, Lu, Wang and Cai. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Uncontrolled Keywords: embodied cognition,metaphor,tactile sensation,hardness,softness,memory,creativity,cognitive function
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
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Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2016 13:00
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2022 01:34
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01343


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