Sensory motor mechanisms unify psychology: the embodiment of culture

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Sensorimotor mechanisms can unify explanations at cognitive, social, and cultural levels. As an example, we review how anticipated motor effort is used by individuals and groups to judge distance: the

Sensorimotor mechanisms can unify explanations at cognitive, social, and cultural levels. As an example, we review how anticipated motor effort is used by individuals and groups to judge distance: the greater the anticipated effort the greater the perceived distance. Anticipated motor effort can also be used to understand cultural differences. People with interdependent self- construals interact almost exclusively with in-group members, and hence there is little opportunity to tune their sensorimotor systems for interaction with out-group members. The result is that interactions with out-group members are expected to be difficult and out-group members are perceived as literally more distant. In two experiments we show (a) interdependent Americans, compared to independent Americans, see American confederates (in-group) as closer; (b) interdependent Arabs, compared to independent Arabs, perceive Arab confederates (in- group) as closer, whereas interdependent Americans perceive Arab confederates (out-group) as farther. These results demonstrate how the same embodied mechanism can seamlessly contribute to explanations at the cognitive, social, and cultural levels.