Heavy, rough and hard

"When you pick up an object, you might think that you are manipulating it, but in a sense, it is also manipulating you."

"Not Exactly Rocket Science" at Discover describes how the things we touch affect our judgements, and it comes from what might seem like an unlikely source.

Key graphs:

According to [assistant marketing professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management Joshua] Ackerman, these effects happen because our understanding of abstract concepts is deeply rooted in physical experiences. Touch is the first of our senses to develop. In the earliest days of our lives, our ability to feel things like texture and temperature provides a tangible framework that we can use to understand more nebulous notions like importance or personal warmth. Eventually, the two become tied together, so that touching objects can activate the concepts that they are associated with.

This idea is known as 'embodied cognition' and the metaphors and idioms in our languages provide hints about such associations. The link between weight and importance comes through in phrases such as 'heavy matters' and the 'gravity of the situation'. We show the link between texture and harshness when we describe a 'rough day' or 'coarse language'. And the link between hardness and stability or rigidity becomes clear when we describe someone as 'hard-hearted' or 'being a rock'. (link supplied)

Gently mocking academics for thinking of their bodies as mere "transport for their heads," Sir Ken Robinson humorously works the same conceptual terrain when he argues for the importance of the performing arts in education. We must move to understand. Similarly, roboticists seeking intelligent behavior now know that sentient, reflective action depends on contact with the world. And awash in confusion, newborns will eventually find their mother's breast and eyes for affirmation and comfort. All this is good.

But marketing? Who told them?