Motor movements that embody approach and avoidance shape individuals' affective and evaluative responses to objects. In two studies we investigate how approach and avoidance impact participants' judgments of ecologically valid targets: other humans. One trait relevant to the approach or avoidance of other humans is trustworthiness. Trustworthy people can be safely approached, and untrustworthy people should be avoided. We examined whether arm contractions of approach and avoidance enhanced or diminished trust toward others, respectively. Perceived trustworthiness, relative to untrustworthiness, potentiated arm flexion (approach; Study 1). Conversely, arm flexion relative to extension led to increased perceptions of trust (Study 2). Thus, beyond motivational, cognitive, and emotional processes, embodied cues impact impression formation.
Slepian, Michael, S.G. Young, N.O. Rule, M. Weisbuch, and N. Ambady. "Embodied impression formation: Social judgments and motor cues to approach and avoidance." Social Cognition 30 (2012): 232-240.
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