Embodiment of cognition and emotion

P. Winkielman, P.M. Niedenthal, J. Wielgosz, J. Eelen, L.C. Kavanagh

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


The structure of the chapter is roughly as follows. We begin by contrasting embodiment theories with their main competitors—theories that emphasize the amodal, propositional nature of mental representations. We then review some evidence for embodied processing in more cognitive domains. We then move on to a detailed description of research on embodied processing’s role in emotional perception and emotional language comprehension, the role of embodied metaphor in understanding interpersonal relations and morality, and the role of mimicry in social judgment. Finally, we discuss the applicability of embodiment theory to understanding and perhaps helping to ameliorate impairments of social functioning, using autism and depression as two illustrative examples. We conclude with the suggestion that a fully fleshed-out embodied account of information processing is still a work in progress. It may in fact be the case that the embodiment perspective cannot satisfactorily account for some important aspect of cognition and emotion. Still, the embodiment perspective has proved remarkably generative in terms of both producing new findings and explaining major phenomena and is likely to continue being a major force in psychology in general and social psychology in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAPA handbooks of psychology, APA handbook of personality and social psychology, Vol. 1: Attitudes and social cognition
EditorsM. Mikulincer, P.R. Shaver, E. Borgida, J.A. Bargh
Place of PublicationWashington DC, USA
PublisherAmerican Psychological Association
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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