PSYC DB 2 : The embodied cognition perspective emphasizes the role of action in cognition. What is the evidence for and against this model?

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Peer 1 Jerrie

The embodied cognition perspective emphasizes the role of action in cognition. What is the evidence for and against this model? How can this perspective inform the design of new educational techniques and technologies?

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As stated, the embodied cognition perspective is a way of thinking about cognition that considers how action connects us to our environment. According to Anderson (2020), any hypothesis that has to do with how meaning is constructed within the human mind requires the consideration of how perceptual and motor sensory systems work together. This is a good starting point. There are two different types of research studies that show interesting support for the embodied cognition perspective, and from completely different concentrations.

First, Anderson (2020) cited a study by Hauk et al. (2004), that investigated brain activity occurring when verbs were used that involved parts of the body. What Hauk et al. (2004) found was that such verbs stimulated the motor cortex, or the part of the brain that directs movement. As in much of modern psychology brain imaging can offer compelling evidence for the discussion on embodied cognition. Similarly, Foglia and Wilson (2013) explain how cognition is the result of the interaction between “neural and non-neural processes”. They further explain how this shows there is no separation between cognition, the physical body, and the environment. This, then, shows how the body naturally limits, controls, and fashions the essence of cognitive abilities.

Another study (Janzen, 2022) that offers support for the embodied cognition perspective, involved people who communicate using American Sign Language (ASL). These individuals, who usually cannot hear or speak, literally use their bodies and the space around them to create understanding and narrate actions in recounting experiences. This study highlights the importance of the point Anderson (2020) made about any model considering how meaning is created in the mind must consider how multiple modalities interact to complete this function.

Wilson and Golonka (2013) offer research they claim undermines the approach of embodied cognition. Citing work in robotics, the authors note that robots “embody” a system that can be placed in an environment and produce sophisticated behaviors, without any internal concept of that behavior needing to be present.

The embodied cognition perspective has already been used in the field of physics to help create virtual reality programs that provide more powerful perceptual experiences that lead to deeper student understanding and learning (Black et al., 2012). It seems obvious that embodied cognitive approaches could be used in a plethora of applications within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines that utilize spatial skills. Embodied cognition approaches would integrate tools that engage sensory and motor systems which, again, have the capacity to improve how and increase what students can learn.


Anderson, J. R. (2020). Cognitive psychology and its implications (9th ed.). Worth Publishers. VitalSource Bookshelf version. Retrieved from vbk://9781319106997

Black, J.B., Segal, A., Vitale, J. and Fadjo, C. (2012). Embodied cognition and learning environment design. In D. Jonassen and S. Lamb (eds.) Theoretical foundations of

          student-centered learning environments. New York: Routledge. Retrieved from
Links to an external site.

Links to an external site.

Foglia, L., & Wilson, R. A. (2013). Embodied cognition. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews. Cognitive Science, 4(3), 319-325.
Links to an external site.

Hauk, O., Johnsrude, I., & Pulvermuller, F. (2004). Somatotopic representation of action words in human motor and premotor cortex. Neuron, 41, 301–307.

Janzen, T. (2022). Embodied cognition. Languages in Contrast, 22(2), 227–258.
Links to an external site.

Wilson, A.D., & Golonka, S. (2013). Embodied cognition is not what you think it is. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 1-13.
Links to an external site.

Peer 2 Tyler

The embodied cognition perspective is a perspective on visual and verbal sensory input.  Effectively the body plays an integral role in our connection to the world.  When it comes to language processing embodied cognition says that if we hear a word, we will attempt to connect it to a picture or action and to understand an action we will attempt to mimic it within our own body. 

There is evidence to support this perspective. Yim et al. (2021), investigated whether mannequin displays were related to shopping motivations of consumers based on height and distance.  The dependent variable of their study was an increase or decrease in purchase intention.  They found that if mannequins were displayed in a certain way, this would facilitate embodied cognition resulting an increased purchase intention (Yim et al., 2021, p. 5).  This gives proof to the concept of embodied cognition as we are better able to relate to the mannequin and understand how a particular item of clothing would look.

Farina (2020) provided more evidence when writing about the dimensions, domains, and applications of embodied cognition.  They showed that children’s cognitive capabilities are linked with both behavioral and emotional experiences (p.84) as well as showing that in the realm of sports psychology.  When fans were shown videos in a study conducted by Beilock et al. (2008) about different sporting activities, their brains showed increased levels of activation like that of athletes who played that sport at a professional level (p. 13272).

However, there is evidence that downplays the importance and even is against the idea of embodied cognition.  The major opponent of the theory is Goldinger et al. (2016).  The evidence against was the mental response of fear that can affect physiological functions such as a call for adrenaline. 

In a literature review conducted by Mahnon (2014), he proposed that conceptual processing was the correct avenue in which to go down.  The evidence suggested by Peterson & Savoy (1998, via Mahon 2014) is that when choosing between dominant and non-dominant words for objects such as couch vs sofa, there is a tendency to use the dominant words even though both share similar characteristics. Peterson & Savoy (1998) argued that there should be a split between the words if embodied cognition was as prevalent as thought.

If we accept that embodied cognition perspective is the correct one, then it has huge implications on educational techniques and associated technologies. The idea of having a body mind connection would imply that adding a physical element to a training. With this knowledge we should be varying out training to increase the effectiveness of said training.  This can both apply to a classroom setting during early education as well as to the workplace when trying to learn new skills. For example, when teaching new words to children or new actions to adults, we should be showing the action as we explain it in order to help the individual to understand it and better remember the association.  


Beilock, S. L., Lyons, I. M., Mattarella-Micke, A., Nusbaum, H. C., & Small, S. L. (2008). Sports experience changes the neural processing of action language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(36), 13269–13273.

Farina, M. (2020). Embodied cognition: dimensions, domains and applications. Adaptive Behavior, 29(1), 73–88.

Mahon, B. Z. (2014). What is embodied about cognition? Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 30(4), 420–429.

Peterson, R. R., & Savoy, P. (1998). Lexical selection and phonological encoding during language production: Evidence for cascaded processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 24(3), 539–557.

Yim, M. Y., Lee, J., & Jeong, H. (2021). Exploring the impact of the physical conditions of mannequin displays on mental simulation: An embodied cognition theory perspective. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 58, 102332.

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