When left is "Right": Motor fluency shapes abstract concepts

Casasanto, D., & Chrysikou, E. G. (2011). When left is "Right": Motor fluency shapes abstract concepts. Psychological Science, 22, 419-422. doi:10.1177/0956797611401755.
Right- and left-handers implicitly associate positive ideas like "goodness"and "honesty"more strongly with their dominant side of space, the side on which they can act more fluently, and negative ideas more strongly with their nondominant side. Here we show that right-handers’ tendency to associate "good" with "right" and "bad" with "left" can be reversed as a result of both long- and short-term changes in motor fluency. Among patients who were right-handed prior to unilateral stroke, those with disabled left hands associated "good" with "right," but those with disabled right hands associated "good" with "left,"as natural left-handers do. A similar pattern was found in healthy right-handers whose right or left hand was temporarily handicapped in the laboratory. Even a few minutes of acting more fluently with the left hand can change right-handers’ implicit associations between space and emotional valence, causing a reversal of their usual judgments. Motor experience plays a causal role in shaping abstract thought.
Publication type
Journal article
Publication date
2011

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