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How the Body Shapes Knowledge: Empirical Support for Embodied Cognition

by Rebecca Fincher-Kiefer American Psychological Association
Pub Date:
Pbk 195 pages
AU$146.00 NZ$149.57
Product Status: Out of stock. Not available to order.
& Academics:
If you are leaning backwards in your chair, are you more likely to think about the past than the future?  When you say that someone “leaves me cold,” do you literally feel cold? What role does the body play in our perceptions of the world?  Is the mind a calculating machine, or are our thoughts and emotions “grounded” in specific, felt, bodily experience?


Questions like these have long driven research in embodied cognition, a theory of mental functioning that has gained increasing prominence in recent decades. This book explores embodied cognition from an experimental psychology perspective.  Author Rebecca-Fincher Kiefer examines a wealth of evidence, including behavioral studies supported by neuroscientific findings, that suggest that our knowledge of the world is represented, or grounded, in the neural pathways that were used when we initially experienced those concepts. A “reuse” of these same neural pathways, according to embodiment theory, is therefore what constitutes thinking.


With compelling descriptions and an investigative spirit, this book is essential reading for graduate and undergraduate students, and anyone seeking to understand the past, present, and future of human cognition.


1.An Introduction to the Theory of Embodied Cognition
2.The Body's Role in Perception
3.The Body's Role in Social and Emotional Judgments
4.The Body's Role in Higher-Order Cognition
5.The Body's Role in Language Comprehension
6.The Role of Simulation in Cognitive Judgments
7.The Role of Simulation in Emotion
8.The Role of Metaphor in the Representation of Abstract Concepts
9.Reactions to the Theory of Embodied Cognition

“The strength of this book is that it identifies critical, empirical questions that psychologists have used to test the model, identifying how embodied cognition accounts for diversity of psychological thought, ranging from relatively simple perception to complex, abstract thought and emotion. The author’s interesting and cogent ideas could pave the way for more investigation and replication to assess the robustness of the theory.” ­—Choice
Rebecca Fincher-Kiefer, PhD, is professor of psychology at Gettysburg College. She received her PhD in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1988 and has been teaching at Gettysburg College since then.  Throughout her 30 years of teaching, Dr. Fincher-Kiefer has dedicated her research to better understanding inferential processing during reading, hemispheric differences in inferential processing, and the nature of the mental representation of text. She is interested in how the body influences human cognition.  Dr. Fincher-Kiefer is based in Gettysburg, PA.