Do important things really feel heavier?


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Previous work showed that concrete experiences of weight influence people’s judgments of how important certain issues are. In line with an embodied simulation account but contrary to a metaphor-enriched perspective, this work shows that perceived importance of an object influences perceptions of weight. Two studies manipulated information about a book’s importance, after which, participants estimated its weight. Importance information caused participants to perceive the book to be heavier. This was not merely a semantic association, because weight perceptions were affected only when participants physically held the book. Furthermore, importance information influenced weight perceptions but not perceptions of monetary value. These findings extend previous research by showing that the activation direction from weight to importance can be reversed, thus suggesting that the connection between importance and weight goes beyond metaphorical mappings. Implications for the debate on interpretation of findings on the interplay between bodily states and abstract information are discussed.

Source: “Weighty Matters: Importance Literally Feels Heavy” from Social Psychological and Personality Science

May sound like some odd little one off study but this isn’t the first experiment to demonstrate this effect.

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