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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2014 Dec;107(6):965-77. doi: 10.1037/a0038153.

Embodied motivation: using a goal systems framework to understand the preference for social and physical warmth.

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School of Business, National University of Singapore.
Booth School of Business, University of Chicago.


Embodiment research has primarily focused on metaphor-assimilative effects (e.g., perceiving someone to be socially warmer when holding a warm object). Research shows these effects can occur by activating metaphor-associated knowledge constructs. This account is not sufficient, however, for explaining complementary effects--for example, the tendency to prefer social warmth when experiencing physical coldness (Experiment 1). We suggest that socially warm events are considered a means for achieving the goal of reducing physical coldness. Guided by this basic hypothesis and the principles of a goal systems framework, we examine whether the basic relationship between goals and means explains complementary embodiment effects. We find that socially warm activities are preferred over control activities when people are primed with the goal of reducing physical coldness, but not when primed with the concept of coldness (Experiment 2). We also find that activating an alternative goal decreases the attractiveness of socially warm activities when people are feeling cold (Experiment 3). Finally, we examine the effect of social coldness on preferences for physical warmth, showing that the attractiveness of physically warm items among socially excluded people is decreased by activating an alternative goal (Experiment 4). These results suggest that complementary embodiment effects follow the principles of goal activation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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