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Embodied cognition theory states that our thoughts and emotions are profoundly affected by our physical bodies. A new study takes this idea further, claiming that our bodily states — particularly when they’re urgent — can even influence our metaphysical beliefs.
Unlike Cartesian mind-body dualism, embodied cognition puts forth the notion that the mind is not only connected to the body, but that the body influences the mind. The theory, though controversial, suggests that our cognition, or brain states, are strongly determined by our experiences in the physical world. Indeed, previous studies have shown that our bodily movements and configurations can influence our attitudes.
For example, we enjoy things more when we nod yes, we are happier when we smile, and we suspect that botox injections stunt our ability to feel emotions. In addition, people’s judgements of social closeness can be influenced by room temperature, and their attentional style by the clothes they wear.