Grounding Lay Theories of Personality: Proprioception Influences Person Theories.
Abstract: Models of embodied cognition posit that concrete and abstract
concepts are represented in sensorimotor systems. The authors investigated the hypothesis
that sensorimotor systems might also underlie beliefs, specifically lay theories of
personality. Entity theorists believe personality traits to be fixed, whereas incremental
theorists believe traits to be malleable. As descriptions of... read more"fixed" and "malleable" also
describe proprioceptive sensations of handling objects, the authors predicted that handling
malleable objects would lead to a more incremental theory of personality, and that handling
fixed objects would lead to a more entity theory of personality. Across seven studies,
handling malleable objects led to self-descriptions consisting of more malleable
attributes, greater perceived variability in others' behavior, and greater endorsement of
an incremental theory of personality. Handling fixed objects, in contrast, led to more
stable attributes in self-descriptions, greater perceived stability in others' behavior,
and greater endorsement of an entity theory of personality. Furthermore, the authors
present data that suggest these effects are independent of semantic priming, and that the
relationship between proprioception and person theories is reciprocal. These data suggest
that beliefs about others' malleability might be uniquely embodied, and that proprioception
influences real-world outcomes relevant to person theories, affecting stereotyping and
Thesis (M.S.)--Tufts University, 2011.
Submitted to the Dept. of Psychology.
Advisor: Nalini Ambady.
Committee: Max Weisbuch, and Heather Urry.
Keyword: Social psychology.read less