Action's Influence on Thought: The Case of Gesture

Susan Goldin-Meadow, Sian L. Beilock
2010 Perspectives on Psychological Science  
Recent research has shown that people's actions can influence how they think. A separate body of research has shown that the gestures people produce when they speak can also influence how they think. In this article, we bring these two literatures together to explore whether gesture has an effect on thinking by virtue of its ability to reflect real-world actions. We first argue that gestures contain detailed perceptual-motor information about the actions they represent, information often not
more » ... nd in the speech that accompanies the gestures. We then show that the action features in gesture do not just reflect the gesturer's thinking--they can feed back and alter that thinking. Gesture actively brings action into a speaker's mental representations, and those mental representations then affect behavior--at times more powerfully than do the actions on which the gestures are based. Gesture thus has the potential to serve as a unique bridge between action and abstract thought.
doi:10.1177/1745691610388764 pmid:21572548 pmcid:PMC3093190 fatcat:jslcs3prdvhd3hnrwutjsh3tre