Weight as an embodiment of importance

Psychol Sci. 2009 Sep;20(9):1169-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02426.x. Epub 2009 Aug 14.


Four studies show that the abstract concept of importance is grounded in bodily experiences of weight. Participants provided judgments of importance while they held either a heavy or a light clipboard. Holding a heavy clipboard increased judgments of monetary value (Study 1) and made participants consider fair decision-making procedures to be more important (Study 2). It also caused more elaborate thinking, as indicated by higher consistency between related judgments (Study 3) and by greater polarization of agreement ratings for strong versus weak arguments (Study 4). In line with an embodied perspective on cognition, these findings suggest that, much as weight makes people invest more physical effort in dealing with concrete objects, it also makes people invest more cognitive effort in dealing with abstract issues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Concept Formation*
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Problem Solving
  • Social Values*
  • Weight Perception*
  • Young Adult