Psychological warmth serves as a fundamental dimension of human social cognition. From impressions of strangers to appraisals of groups, assessments of warmth (vs. coldness) comprise an elemental building block of social perception. Using embodiment as a guiding framework, research has demonstrated that perceptions of others along the warm-cold dimension can be elicited by sensory experiences (e.g., physical warmth). Here we show that effects of this kind can also be triggered by mentally simulating physical temperature, but only under certain theoretically important imagery conditions. Specifically, impressions of a target were impacted by imagined warmth or coldness (i.e., thinking about holding a cup of hot/iced coffee) only when an event was simulated from an egocentric (i.e., first-person) perspective. No such effect emerged when an allocentric (i.e., third-person) orientation was adopted. This finding underscores the functional nature of mental simulation and identifies spatial visual perspective as a critical boundary condition of embodied cognition.
- person perception
- warm-cold effect
- spatial visual perspective
Macrae, N., Sunder Raj, R., Best, S., Christian, B., & Miles, L. (2013). Imagined sensory experiences can shape person perception: it's a matter of visual perspective. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(3), 595-598. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2012.10.002