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      A Sense of Embodiment Is Reflected in People's Signature Size


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          The size of a person's signature may reveal implicit information about how the self is perceived although this has not been closely examined.


          We conducted three experiments to test whether increases in signature size can be induced. Specifically, the aim of these experiments was to test whether changes in signature size reflect a person's current implicit sense of embodiment. Experiment 1 showed that an implicit affect task (positive subliminal evaluative conditioning) led to increases in signature size relative to an affectively neutral task, showing that implicit affective cues alter signature size. Experiments 2 and 3 demonstrated increases in signature size following experiential self-focus on sensory and affective stimuli relative to both conceptual self-focus and external (non-self-focus) in both healthy participants and patients with anorexia nervosa, a disorder associated with self-evaluation and a sense of disembodiment. In all three experiments, increases in signature size were unrelated to changes in self-reported mood and larger than manipulation unrelated variations.


          Together, these findings suggest that a person's sense of embodiment is reflected in their signature size.

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          Most cited references14

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          Grounded cognition.

          Grounded cognition rejects traditional views that cognition is computation on amodal symbols in a modular system, independent of the brain's modal systems for perception, action, and introspection. Instead, grounded cognition proposes that modal simulations, bodily states, and situated action underlie cognition. Accumulating behavioral and neural evidence supporting this view is reviewed from research on perception, memory, knowledge, language, thought, social cognition, and development. Theories of grounded cognition are also reviewed, as are origins of the area and common misperceptions of it. Theoretical, empirical, and methodological issues are raised whose future treatment is likely to affect the growth and impact of grounded cognition.
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            Understanding and using the implicit association test: I. An improved scoring algorithm.

            In reporting Implicit Association Test (IAT) results, researchers have most often used scoring conventions described in the first publication of the IAT (A.G. Greenwald, D.E. McGhee, & J.L.K. Schwartz, 1998). Demonstration IATs available on the Internet have produced large data sets that were used in the current article to evaluate alternative scoring procedures. Candidate new algorithms were examined in terms of their (a) correlations with parallel self-report measures, (b) resistance to an artifact associated with speed of responding, (c) internal consistency, (d) sensitivity to known influences on IAT measures, and (e) resistance to known procedural influences. The best-performing measure incorporates data from the IAT's practice trials, uses a metric that is calibrated by each respondent's latency variability, and includes a latency penalty for errors. This new algorithm strongly outperforms the earlier (conventional) procedure.
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              Embodiment in attitudes, social perception, and emotion.

              Findings in the social psychology literatures on attitudes, social perception, and emotion demonstrate that social information processing involves embodiment, where embodiment refers both to actual bodily states and to simulations of experience in the brain's modality-specific systems for perception, action, and introspection. We show that embodiment underlies social information processing when the perceiver interacts with actual social objects (online cognition) and when the perceiver represents social objects in their absence (offline cognition). Although many empirical demonstrations of social embodiment exist, no particularly compelling account of them has been offered. We propose that theories of embodied cognition, such as the Perceptual Symbol Systems (PSS) account (Barsalou, 1999), explain and integrate these findings, and that they also suggest exciting new directions for research. We compare the PSS account to a variety of related proposals and show how it addresses criticisms that have previously posed problems for the general embodiment approach.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                12 February 2014
                : 9
                : 2
                [1 ]University of Sussex, School of Psychology, Brighton, United Kingdom
                [2 ]University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom
                [3 ]Southern District Health Board, Dunedin, New Zealand
                University of Bologna, Italy
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: AR CJH RJP UDO JMGW. Performed the experiments: AR. Analyzed the data: AR. Wrote the paper: AR. Provided critical revisions: CJH JMGW. Approved the final version of the paper for submission: AR CJH RJP UDO JMGW.


                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Pages: 6
                This research was supported by the Wellcome Trust GR067797 ( http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Mental Health
                Social and Behavioral Sciences
                Applied Psychology
                Clinical Psychology
                Cognitive Psychology
                Experimental Psychology
                Sensory Perception
                Social Psychology



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