Implicit Influence of Affective Postures on the Perception of Others: You Can't Show Me How I Feel

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Psychology (CMC)

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This study examined how one's own posture influences the perception of another's posture in a task with implicit affective information. In 2 experiments, participants assumed or viewed a body posture and then compared that posture with a viewed posture. They were not told that postures varied in affective valence: positive, negative, neutral-abstract, or neutral-meaningful. Posture affect influenced both accuracy and response time measures of posture discrimination. Participants were slower and less accurate for targets that matched an assumed posture, but only for affective postures. This pattern did not hold for matching affectively neutral postures (meaningful or not), nonmatching postures, or for purely visual comparisons. These results are consistent with both cognitive embodiment theories postulating that personal body posture influences the perception of other's postures and emotional embodiment theories postulating sensorimotor and emotional simulation processes that create correspondences between one's own and another's emotional postures. Nonetheless, these findings differ from studies finding facilitation for explicit emotional judgments of affective congruence. People use different information depending on task requirements. The assumption of an affective posture may activate simulations of personal emotional experiences that may, in turn, serve to differentiate personal posture perception from ostensibly the same posture in another person.

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© 2011 American Psychological Association