What is it about?

Why is it important to pay attention to the meaning behind body movements in embodiment research? We experimentally manipulated the fluidity (fluid or nonfluid) of arm movements and the sacredness (sacred or nonsacred) of the meaning attributed to arm movements. Although we did not replicate previous findings on the impact of fluid movement on cognition, we found that attributing sacred meaning to arm movements led to greater experiences of positive and self-transcendent positive emotions (and decreases in negative emotions) and protected against decreases in positive and increases in negative emotions due to nonfluid movement.

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Why is it important?

Our findings align with prior research supporting that embodiment operates through affective processes. Our findings reveal the importance of accounting for not only the types of body movements enacted but also the kinds of meaning attached to body movements when conducting research in embodiment.


This article combined my research interests in embodiment, affect/emotion, and social cognition. I hope that it sparks future research that develops embodied interventions with the purpose of increasing positive emotions.

Paige Freeburg
Baylor University

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This page is a summary of: Meaning behind the movement: Attributing sacred meaning to fluid and nonfluid arm movements increases self-transcendent positive emotions and buffers the effects of nonfluidity on positive emotions., Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, March 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/rel0000463.
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