Simple motor actions, like moving marbles upward or downward between two cardboard boxes, may not seem meaningful. But a study published April 2010 in Cognition shows that motor actions can partly determine people’s emotional memories.
Moving marbles upward caused participants to remember more positive life experiences, and moving them downward to remember more negative experiences, according to Daniel Casasanto (MPI and Donders Institute, Nijmegen) and Katinka Dijkstra (Erasmus University, Rotterdam). ‘Meaningless’ motor actions can make people remember the good times or the bad.
When people talk about positive and negative emotions they often use spatial metaphors. A happy person is on top of the world, but a sad person is down in the dumps. Some researchers believe these metaphors are a clue to the way people understand emotions: not only do we use spatial words to talk about emotional states, we also use spatial concepts to think about them.
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