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DFG Research Unit FOR 2150 | Relativity in Social Cognition

Verticality and Upward / Downward Comparisons

Sascha TopolinskiLea Boecker

According to embodiment theory, knowledge is not represented in an amodal abstract way but it is linked to perceptual and motoric components. Aim of this project is to investigate the sensorimotor grounds of comparative thinking. The embodiment component of comparative thinking has not been researched yet although there exists a strong link between the spatial dimension of verticality and the comparison concept. This link is present for instance in language as we say that we look up to someone when expressing admiration and look down to someone when expressing resentment. This project investigates the bidirectional link between verticality (top and bottom locations) and comparisons (upward and downward). It is tested whether vertical position of a comparison standard (top vs. bottom presentation on a PC screen) influences comparative judgments and also the other direction, whether upward (downward) comparisons prime upper (lower) vertical positions. Furthermore, the underlying mechanism of this link is investigated by testing whether vertical position either primes the direction of comparison or changes the value of the comparison standard itself and thereby altering the comparative judgment. By investigating the basic sensorimotor mechanism of comparative thinking this project will stimulate embodiment and comparison research.

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Jun.-Prof. Dr. Sascha Topolinski
PI | Embodiment

Universität zu Köln

Social and Economic Cognition II
Richard-Strauss-Str. 2
50931 Köln | GERMANY

Telephone +49-221-470-2060
E-mail sascha.topolinski(at)