By Michal Parzuchowski and Bodgan Wojciszke
The Journal of Nonverbal Behavior 2014; 38: 145–165.
Published online Oct 26, 2013. doi: 10.1007/s10919-013-0170-0
Morality is a prominent guide of both action and perception. We argue that non-emotional gestures can prime the abstract concept of honesty. Four studies demonstrated that the emblematic gesture associated with honesty (putting a hand on one’s heart) increased the level of honesty perceived by others, and increased the honesty shown in one’s own behavior. Target persons performing this gesture were described in terms associated with honesty, and appeared more trustworthy to others than when the same targets were photographed with a control gesture. Persons performing the hand-over-heart gesture provided more honest assessments of others’ attractiveness, and refrained from cheating, as compared to persons performing neutral gestures. These findings suggest that bodily experience associated with abstract concepts can influence both one’s perceptions of others, and one’s own complex actions. Further, our findings suggest that this influence is not mediated by changes in affective states.
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