In which direction to move? Facilitative and interference effects of gestures on problem solver's thinking

Stephanie I. Wassenburg*, Björn B. de Koning, Menno van der Schoot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Recent research shows that co-speech gestures can influence gesturers’ thought. This line of research suggests that the influence of gestures is so strong, that it can wash out and reverse an effect of learning. We argue that these findings need a more robust and ecologically valid test, which we provide in this article. Our results support the claim that gestures not only reflect information in our mental representations, but can also influence gesturer's thought by adding action information to one's mental representation during problem solving (Tower of Hanoi). We show, however, that the effect of gestures on subsequent performance is not as strong as previously suggested. As opposed to what previous research indicates, gestures' facilitative effect through learning was not nullified by the potentially interfering effect on subsequent problem-solving performance of incompatible gestures. To conclude, using gestures during problem solving seems to provide more benefits than costs for task performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-313
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychology
Volume30
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jan 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

Keywords

  • embodied cognition
  • Gestures
  • mental representation
  • problem solving
  • Tower of Hanoi

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