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Title:Embodied Cultural Cognition: How Culture Is Carried by Our Bodily Experiences
Author(s):Leung, Ka Yee
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Dov Cohen
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Abstract:Inspired by the flourishing volume of research on embodied cognition, I examine in the present research the soft and hard embodiments of culture. In a series of studies, I demonstrate that the perspective or "camera angle" we take provides us a psychological representation of the self that embodies an understanding of our place in the social world and our relation to others (soft embodiment). In Studies 1 and 2, I pursue the research further to examine how our physical body comportment can embody a moral outlook we endorse (hard embodiment). In Study 1, I argue that Asian Americans consider both the particularistic and universalistic moral discourses to be salient and legitimate, and accordingly a "hugging" posture embodies and activates the particularistic code whereas an upright posture embodies and activates the universalistic code. However, for European Americans, particularism and universalism are not dually accessible and being particularistic may imply cheating. Results showed that European Americans did not change their moral worldview as a result of assuming different moral poses. In Study 2, I found that first, after assuming the arm crossing posture, more devoted members of a religion condemned autonomy violations more strongly (possibly due to having embodied a sense of autonomy to uphold standards of right and wrong and to stand for what they believe in) whereas less devoted members became more libertine (possibly due to having embodied a sense of autonomy to refuse to judge others and to see things as clear-cut black and white). Second, results showed that both devoted and less devoted followers showed more disapproval of contamination acts after assuming the posture of rubbing their hands (a gesture that unwittingly resembles hand washing; an embodiment of cleanliness, removal of contamination, and sacredness). Further, results showed that less religious followers of faith-oriented religions (i.e., Protestants and Muslims) condemned blasphemy and sexual fantasies equally strongly as their highly religious counterparts after assuming the "hand washing" posture. Together, the present research provides a novel perspective in studying culture---our body constitutes an important carrier of cultural values and imperatives. It also suggests an exciting avenue for pursuing interdisciplinary research.
Issue Date:2007
Description:126 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2007.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3290290
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2007

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