Table_1_Moved by Emotions: Affective Concepts Representing Personal Life Events Induce Freely Performed Steps in Line With Combined Sagittal and Lateral Space-Valence Associations.docx

Embodiment approaches to cognition and emotion have put forth the idea that the way we think and talk about affective events often recruits spatial information that stems, to some extent, from our bodily experiences. For example, metaphorical expressions such as “being someone’s right hand” or “leaving something bad behind” convey affectivity associated with the lateral and sagittal dimensions of space. Action tendencies associated with affect such as the directional fluency of hand movements (dominant right hand-side – positive; non-dominant left hand-side – negative) and approach-avoidance behaviors (forward – positive; backwards – negative) might be mechanisms supporting such associations. Against this background, experimental research has investigated whether positive and negative words are freely allocated into space (e.g., close or far from one’s body) or resonate with congruent (vs. incongruent) predefined manual actions usually performed by joysticks or button presses (e.g., positive – right; negative – left, or vice versa). However, to date, it is unclear how the processing of affective concepts resonate with directional actions of the whole body, the more if such actions are performed freely within a context enabling both, lateral and sagittal movements. Accordingly, 67 right-handed participants were to freely step on an 8-response pad (front, back, right, left, front-right, front-left, back-right, or back-left) after being presented in front of them valence-laden personal life-events submitted before the task (e.g., words or sentences such as “graduation” or “birth of a child”). The most revealing finding of this study indicates that approach-avoidance behaviors and space-valence associations across laterality are interwoven during whole body step actions: Positive events induced steps highly biased to front-right whereas negative events induced steps highly biased to back-left.