Our rational thinking is affected by bodily quirks

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Washington, Feb 15 (IANS) We are actually kidding ourselves when we take pride in our rational thinking - who knows when it may be hijacked by quirks.

One particularly powerful influence may be our own bodies, according to new research conducted by cognitive scientist Daniel Casasanto, from the New School for Social Research, New York.

He has shown that quirks of our bodies affect our thinking in predictable ways, across many different areas of life, from language to mental imagery to emotion.

People with different shapes, sizes, and different kinds of bodies think differently - an idea Casasanto has termed the 'body-specificity hypothesis,' the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science reports.

One way our bodies appear to shape our decision-making is through handedness. Casasanto and his colleagues explored whether being right-handed or left-handed might influence our judgements about abstract ideas like value, intelligence, and honesty, according to a New School statement.

Through a series of experiments, they found that in general people tend to prefer the things that they encounter on the same side as their dominant hand.

When participants were asked: which of two products to buy? which of two job applicants to hire? or which of the two alien creatures looked more trustworthy? right-handers routinely chose the product, person, or creature they saw on the right side of the page, while left-handers preferred the ones on the left.

"People like things better when they are easier to perceive and interact with," Casasanto says. Right-handers interact with their environment more easily on the right than on the left, so they come to associate 'good' with 'right' and 'bad' with 'left.'

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