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Title: Perspective matters : an exploration of embodied cognition
Author: Christian, Brittany M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 0242
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
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The capacity to mentally transcend the present moment affords the opportunity to relive former pleasures or preview the perils of things to come. According to the theory of embodied cognition, these imaginary events are made possible by the reactivation of the modality-specific sensory-motor components that accompany interaction with the environment (Barsalou, 1999, 2008; Wilson, 2002). But what happens when our mental simulations deviate from veridical experience? Guided by the observation that imagining the self from an outside point-of-view is a regular occurrence in the mental world (Nigro & Neisser, 1983), this thesis explored the sensory-motor activities that accompany first- and third-person imagery. As first-person (cf. third-person) simulations are closer in character to actual experience, it was anticipated that events imagined from this point-of-view would be accompanied by more pronounced embodied effects than those imagined from a third-person perspective. Online (i.e., during imagery) measures demonstrated that neural (Chapter 2) and motor (Chapter 3) activities were greater when imagining experiences from a first-person (cf. third-person) perspective. Extending the exploration of embodiment to offline (i.e., after imagery) effects, it was evidenced that simulated temperature contaminated person perception judgments (Chapter 4) and imaginary ingestion exacerbated consumption of unhealthy foods (Chapter 5), but only when the relevant sensory information was simulated from a first-person point-of-view. A final study contextualized these findings, identifying the natural occurrence of each perspective as well as individual differences that influence the vantage point most commonly adopted during spontaneous mental imagery. Taken together, these results suggest that first-person simulations are more body-based than their third-person counterparts. Imbued with theoretical and practical implications, the current thesis identifies a potential mechanism by which first- and third-person simulations give rise to disparate cognitive and behavioural outcomes, and furnishes a more nuanced understanding of embodied cognition.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cognition ; Perspective