Can Culture Influence Body‐Specific Associations Between Space and Valence?

Cognitive Science 39 (4):821-832 (2015)
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People implicitly associate positive ideas with their dominant side of space and negative ideas with their non-dominant side. Right-handers tend to associate “good” with “right” and “bad” with “left,” but left-handers associate “bad” with “right” and “good” with “left.” Whereas right-handers' implicit associations align with idioms in language and culture that link “good” with “right,” left-handers' implicit associations go against them. Can cultural conventions modulate the body-specific association between valence and left-right space? Here, we compared people from Spanish and Moroccan cultures, which differ in the strength of taboos against the use of the left hand, and therefore in their preference for the right. Results showed stronger explicit associations between space and valence in Moroccan participants than in Spaniards, but they did not show any increased tendency for right-handed Moroccans to associate “good” with “right” implicitly. Despite differences in cultural conventions between Spaniards and Moroccans, we find no evidence for a cross-cultural difference in the implicit association between space and valence, which appears to depend on patterns of bodily experience



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