Adding weight to judgments: The role of stimulus focality on weight-related embodied cognition
Leah M. Kaufmann, Sarah Allen

Research employing metaphors to explore embodied cognition has shown bidirectional relationships between cognitions and sensory-motor stimuli, such as importance and weight (e.g., “weighty tome”). This research has typically used cognition-relevant metaphor primes (e.g., weighted backpacks when making steepness judgments, weighted clipboards when judging importance of written information) but has yet to consider the role of stimuli features like focality in these findings. The current study examined wearing a heavy versus light backpack on social judgments to explore the effect of this unrelated weight prime on established weight-relevant cognitions. Participants were 40 undergraduate psychology students who wore a heavy (~5 kg) or light (<1 kg) backpack while making cognitive, affective, and interpersonal judgments. No significant differences were found between the judgments as a function of backpack weight. This finding suggests that non-task-relevant metaphorical primes have no observable effect on embodied cognition. This provides the first published evidence that embodied cognition is context sensitive and discriminating, that is, not every stimuli activates every related cognition.


embodied cognition; metaphor; weight; social judgments; body mass index (BMI)

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