Perceiving what you intend to do from what you do: evidence for embodiment in social interactions

Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology 5 (2015)
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Although action and perception are central components of our interactions with the external world, the most recent experimental investigations also support their implications in the emotional, decision-making, and goal ascription processes in social context. In this article, we review the existing literature supporting this view and highlighting a link between reach-to-grasp motor actions and social communicative processes. First, we discuss the most recent experimental findings showing how the social context subtly influences the execution of object-oriented motor actions. Then, we show that the kinematic characteristics of object-oriented motor actions are modulated by the actor’s social intention. Finally, we demonstrate that naïve observers can implicitly take advantage of these kinematic effects for their own motor productions. Considered together, these data are compatible with the embodied cognition framework stating that cognition, and in our case social cognition, is grounded in knowledge associated with past sensory and motor experiences. Keywords: perception; motor action; social intention; embodiment; kinematics.



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