Niedenthal, P. M., Barsalou, L., Winkielman, P., Krauth-Gruber, S., & Ric, F. (2005). Embodiment in Attitudes, Social Perception, and Emotion. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 9, 184-211.
Findings in the social psychology literatures on attitudes, social perception, and emotion demonstrate that social information processing involves embodiment, where embodiment refers both to actual bodily states and to simulations of experience in the brainís modality-specific systems for perception, action, and introspection. We show that embodiment underlies social information processing when the perceiver interacts with actual social objects (online cognition) and when the perceiver represents social objects in their absence (offline cognition). Although many empirical demonstrations of social embodiment exist, no particularly compelling account of them has been offered. We propose that theories of embodied cognition, such as the Perceptual Symbol Systems (PSS) account (Barsalou, 1999), explain and integrate these findings, and that they also suggest exciting new directions for research. We compare the PSS account to a variety of related proposals and show how it addresses criticisms that have previously posed problems for the general embodiment approach.