The role of action in perceiving and comparing functional relations

Abstract

There is growing evidence that even the most abstract capacities of human cognition are not entirely amodal and disembodied. The present study presents two empirical studies which aim to demonstrate that relational reasoning is grounded in our sensory-motor experience. Experiment 1 shows that the affordances of tool-like objects have an effect on comparing functional relations. Experiment 2 makes sure that this finding can not be explained by an automatic activation of motor systems. The results are interpreted as evidence that at least certain functional relations are perceived by simulating interactions with the environment. It is also asserted that the process of comparing such relations is constrained by the properties of the human body such as hand-dominance.


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