Evidence for the embodiment of the automatic approach bias

Autor(en): Solzbacher, Johannes
Czeszumski, Artur 
Walter, Sven 
Koenig, Peter 
Stichwörter: action; ADDICTION; ADOLESCENTS; ALCOHOL; APPROACH TENDENCIES; approach-avoidance task; ARM FLEXION; ATTENTION; automatic approach bias; automatic approach-avoidance tendencies; AVOIDANCE; BEHAVIOR; cognition; embodiment; MOVEMENTS; Psychology; Psychology, Multidisciplinary; STIMULI
Erscheinungsdatum: 2022
Band: 13
Tendencies of approach and avoidance seem to be a universal characteristic of humans. Specifically, individuals are faster in avoiding than in approaching negative stimuli and they are faster in approaching than in avoiding positive stimuli. The existence of this automatic approach-avoidance bias has been demonstrated in many studies. Furthermore, this bias is thought to play a key role in psychiatric disorders like drug addiction and phobias. However, its mechanisms are far from clear. Theories of embodied cognition postulate that the nature of gestures plays a key role in this process. To shed light on the role of the involved gesture we employed a 2x2 factorial design with two types of stimuli. Participants had either to approach positive and avoid negative stimuli (congruent conditions) or to avoid positive stimuli and approach negative stimuli (incongruent conditions). Further, they responded either with a joystick or a button press on a response pad. Participants reacted faster in congruent conditions, i.e., avoiding negative stimuli and approaching positive stimuli, than in incongruent conditions. This replicates the known approach and avoidance bias. However, direct analysis of the button press condition revealed no reaction time advantage for congruent trials compared to incongruent trials. In contrast, in the joystick condition participants were significantly faster performing congruent reactions than incongruent reactions. This interaction, a significant reaction time advantage, when the response is enacted by moving a joystick towards or away from the body provides evidence that approach-avoidance tendencies have a crucial bodily component.
ISSN: 1664-1078
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.797122

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