Title

The Hard Embodiment of Culture

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

12-2009

Abstract

The way humans move and comport their bodies is one way they (literally) carry their culture. In pre-wired embodiments, body comportment triggers basic, evolutionarily prepared affective and cognitive reactions that subsequently prime more complex representations. Culture suffuses this process, because (1) cultural artifacts, affordances, and practices make certain body comportments more likely, (2) cultural practices, rituals, schemas, and rules promote the learning of an otherwise underspecified connection between a given body comportment and a particular basic reaction, and (3) cultural meaning systems elaborate basic affective and cognitive reactions into more complex representations. These points are illustrated with three experiments that examine how moral systems can become embodied. We also discuss totem embodiments, in which cultural practices and rituals establish connections between body comportment and complex cultural representations, without the aid of any evolutionarily prepared connection to basic affective and cognitive states.

Keywords

cognition and culture, moral conditions, interpersonal relations and culture

Discipline

Social Psychology | Sociology of Culture

Research Areas

Psychology

Publication

European Journal of Social Psychology

Volume

39

Issue

7

First Page

1278

Last Page

1289

ISSN

0046-2772

Identifier

10.1002/ejsp.671

Publisher

Wiley

Additional URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.671

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