In cognitive design we focus on how to translate scientific insights into how minds work into new products, services, process improvements, better work environments and other innovations. One important insight with plenty of innovation potential is that our mental processes – thinking, learning, making decisions, self-control and the like, very much depend on how we use our bodies. That is, cognition is embodied. For example, we think better when we walk and gesture freely with our arms. So I am always on the lookout for new research into embodied cognition that could have practical implications.
For example, a recent study from Princeton University found that feeling weighed down by guilt is more than a metaphor:
“We found that recalling personal unethical acts led participants to report increased subjective body weight as compared to recalling ethical acts, unethical acts of others or no recall. We also found that this increased sense of weight was related to participants’ heightened feelings of guilt, and not other negative emotions, such as sadness or disgust.”
This finding may have practical consequences. For example, related research suggests you may be able to regulate moral behavior by simulating the experience of being weighted down. Imagine for a moment if wearing a heavy backpack would actually decrease the chance of cheating on an exam or lying.
Interested to hear from readers that have seen other recent results from embodied cognition that could be useful to designers.
Image Source: Richard Gunther on ChristArt.com