Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1877-9751
  • E-ISSN: 1877-976X
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



What influences how people render their moral judgment? Focusing specifically on the conceptual metaphors “” and “”, we sought to investigate whether physical slant can influence people’s harsh moral judgment. Experiment 1 induced physical slant by having participants complete the questionnaire at a tilt table. We observed a significant effect with participants who experienced physical slant rendering a less severe moral judgment than did those who wrote their responses at a level table. Using a new manipulation of physical slant and a larger, more diverse sample, Experiment 2 asked participants to complete the questionnaires with rotated text or normal text. We observed a difference between the two groups: compared to participants who read the normal text, those with a visual experience of slant lessened the severity of their moral judgments. Taken together, the results showed that the consequence of tilted experience exerts downstream effects on moral reasoning, which suggests that incidental bodily experience affects how people render their decisions.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Alter, A. L., Oppenheimer, D. M., & Epley, N.
    (2013) Disfluency prompts analytic thinking – but not always greater accuracy: response to Thompson et al. (2013). Cognition, 128(2), 252–255. 10.1016/j.cognition.2013.01.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2013.01.006 [Google Scholar]
  2. Athanasopoulos, P., Bylund, E., Montero-Melis, G., Damjanovic, L., Schartner, A., Kibbe, A., Riches, N., & Thierry, G.
    (2015) Two languages, two minds flexible cognitive processing driven by language of operation. Psychological Science, 26(4), 518–526. 10.1177/0956797614567509
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614567509 [Google Scholar]
  3. Barsalou, L. W.
    (1999) Perceptual symbol systems. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 577–609. 10.1017/S0140525X99002149
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X99002149 [Google Scholar]
  4. (2008) Grounded cognition. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 617–645. 10.1146/annurev.psych.59.103006.093639
    https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.59.103006.093639 [Google Scholar]
  5. Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., & Funder, D. C.
    (2007) Psychology as the science of self-reports and finger movements: Whatever happened to actual behavior?Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2, 396–403. 10.1111/j.1745‑6916.2007.00051.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-6916.2007.00051.x [Google Scholar]
  6. Briñol, P., & Petty, R. E.
    (2008) Embodied persuasion: Fundamental processes by which bodily responses can impact attitudes. InG. R. Semin & E. R. Smith (Eds.), Embodied grounding: Social, cognitive, affective, and neuroscientific approaches (pp.184–207). New York: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511805837.009
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511805837.009 [Google Scholar]
  7. Casasanto, D., & Lupyan, G.
    (2015) All concepts are ad hoc concepts. InE. Margolis & S. Laurence (Eds.), The conceptual mind: New directions in the study of concepts (pp.543–566). Cambridge: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Cienki, A.
    (1997) Motion in the metaphorical spaces of morality and reasoning as expressed in language and gesture. International Journal of Communication, 7, 85–98.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. (1998) Straight: An image schema and its metaphorical extensions. Cognitive Linguistics, 9(2), 107–150. 10.1515/cogl.1998.9.2.107
    https://doi.org/10.1515/cogl.1998.9.2.107 [Google Scholar]
  10. Forest, A. L., Kille, D. R., Wood, J. V., & Stehouwer, L. R.
    (2015) Turbulent times, rocky relationships: Relational consequences of experiencing physical instability. Psychological Science, 26(8), 1261–1271. 10.1177/0956797615586402
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797615586402 [Google Scholar]
  11. Forsyth, D. R.
    (1981) Moral judgment: The influence of ethical ideology. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 7(2), 218–223. 10.1177/014616728172006
    https://doi.org/10.1177/014616728172006 [Google Scholar]
  12. Geipel, J., Hadjichristidis, C., & Surian, L.
    (2015) How foreign language shapes moral judgment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 59, 8–17. 10.1016/j.jesp.2015.02.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2015.02.001 [Google Scholar]
  13. Gibbs, R. W.
    (2006) Embodiment and cognitive science. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. (2014) Conceptual metaphor in thought and social action. InM. Landau, M. Robinson, & B. Meier (Eds.), The power of metaphor: Examining its influence on social life (pp.17–40). Washington, DC: APA Press. 10.1037/14278‑002
    https://doi.org/10.1037/14278-002 [Google Scholar]
  15. Haidt, J.
    (2001) The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review, 108, 814–834. 10.1037/0033‑295X.108.4.814
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.108.4.814 [Google Scholar]
  16. Hill, P. L., & Lapsley, D. K.
    (2009) The ups and downs of the moral personality: Why it’s not so black and white. Journal of Research in Personality, 43(3), 520–523. 10.1016/j.jrp.2009.01.014
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2009.01.014 [Google Scholar]
  17. Johnson, M.
    (1993) Moral imagination: Implications of cognitive science for ethics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. 10.7208/chicago/9780226223230.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226223230.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  18. (2014) Morality for humans: Ethical understanding from the perspective of cognitive science. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. 10.7208/chicago/9780226113548.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226113548.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  19. Jordan, J., Leliveld, M. C., & Tenbrunsel, A. E.
    (2015) The Moral Self-Image Scale: Measuring and understanding the malleability of the moral self. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 8–23. 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01878
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01878 [Google Scholar]
  20. Kövecses, Z.
    (2015) Where metaphors come from: Reconsidering context in metaphor. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190224868.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190224868.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  21. Lakens, D.
    (2012) Polarity correspondence in metaphor congruency effects: Structural overlap predicts categorization times for bipolar concepts presented in vertical space. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 38(3), 726–736.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Lakoff, G.
    (1993) The contemporary theory of metaphor. InA. Ortony (Ed.), Metaphor and thought (2nd ed., pp.202–251). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139173865.013
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139173865.013 [Google Scholar]
  23. (2002) Moral politics: How liberals and conservatives think (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. 10.7208/chicago/9780226471006.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226471006.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  24. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M.
    (1980) Metaphors we live by. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. (1999) Philosophy in the flesh: The embodied mind and its challenge to western thought. New York, NY: Basic Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Landau, M. J., Robinson, M. D., & Meier, B. P.
    (Eds.) (2014) The power of metaphor: Examining its influence on social life. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 10.1037/14278‑000
    https://doi.org/10.1037/14278-000 [Google Scholar]
  27. Landau, M. J.
    (2016) Conceptual metaphor in social psychology: The poetics of everyday life. New York, NY: Routledge. 10.4324/9781315312019
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315312019 [Google Scholar]
  28. Li, H., & Cao, Y.
    (2017) Who’s holding the moral higher ground: Religiosity and the vertical conception of morality. Personality and Individual Differences, 106, 178–182. 10.1016/j.paid.2016.11.016
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.11.016 [Google Scholar]
  29. Meier, B. P., & Robinson, M. D.
    (2004) Why the sunny side is up: Associations between affect and vertical position. Psychological Science, 15(4), 243–247. 10.1111/j.0956‑7976.2004.00659.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0956-7976.2004.00659.x [Google Scholar]
  30. Meier, B. P., Sellbom, M., & Wygant, D. B.
    (2007) Failing to take the moral high ground: Psychopathy and the vertical representation of morality. Personality and Individual Differences, 43(4), 757–767. 10.1016/j.paid.2007.02.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2007.02.001 [Google Scholar]
  31. Pennycook, G., Cheyne, J. A., Barr, N., Koehler, D. J., & Fugelsang, J. A.
    (2014) Cognitive style and religiosity: the role of conflict detection. Memory & Cognition, 42(1), 1–10. 10.3758/s13421‑013‑0340‑7
    https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-013-0340-7 [Google Scholar]
  32. Riskind, J. H., & Gotay, C. C.
    (1982) Physical posture: Could it have regulatory or feedback effects on motivation and emotion?. Motivation and Emotion, 6(3), 273–298. 10.1007/BF00992249
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00992249 [Google Scholar]
  33. Sherman, G. D., & Clore, G. L.
    (2009) The color of sin: White and black are perceptual symbols of moral purity and pollution. Psychological Science, 20, 1019–1025. 10.1111/j.1467‑9280.2009.02403.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02403.x [Google Scholar]
  34. Wang, H. L., Lu, Y. Q., & Lu, Z. Y.
    (2016) Moral-up first, immoral-down last: The time course of moral metaphors on a vertical dimension. Neuroreport, 27(4), 247–256. 10.1097/WNR.0000000000000528
    https://doi.org/10.1097/WNR.0000000000000528 [Google Scholar]
  35. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A.
    (1988) Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: the PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(6), 1063–1070. 10.1037/0022‑3514.54.6.1063
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.54.6.1063 [Google Scholar]
  36. Williams, L. E., Huang, J. Y., & Bargh, J. A.
    (2009) The scaffolded mind: Higher mental processes are grounded in early experience of the physical world. European Journal of Social Psychology, 39(7), 1257–1267. 10.1002/ejsp.665
    https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.665 [Google Scholar]
  37. Yang, J., Guo, X., & Wang, X.
    (2017) Metaphorical representation of moral concepts: Evidence from red/white color, left/right position and upright/skew font. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 49(7), 875–885. 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.00875
    https://doi.org/10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.00875 [Google Scholar]
  38. Yu, N.
    (2015) Metaphorical character of moral cognition: A comparative and decompositional analysis. Metaphor and Symbol, 30(3), 163–183. 10.1080/10926488.2015.1049500
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10926488.2015.1049500 [Google Scholar]
  39. (2016) Spatial metaphors for morality: A perspective from Chinese. Metaphor and Symbol, 31(2), 108–125. 10.1080/10926488.2016.1150763
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10926488.2016.1150763 [Google Scholar]
  40. Yu, N., Wang, T., & He, Y.
    (2016) Spatial subsystem of moral metaphors: A cognitive semantic study. Metaphor & Symbol, 31(4), 195–211. 10.1080/10926488.2016.1223470
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10926488.2016.1223470 [Google Scholar]
  41. Zhong, C., & Liljenquist, K.
    (2006) Washing away your sins: Threatened morality and physical cleansing. Science, 313, 1451–1452. 10.1126/science.1130726
    https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1130726 [Google Scholar]
  42. Zhong, C.-B., Bohns, V. K., & Gino, F.
    (2010) Good lamps are the best police: Darkness increases dishonesty and self-interested behavior. Psychological Science, 21, 311–314. 10.1177/0956797609360754
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797609360754 [Google Scholar]
  43. Zhong, C. B., Strejcek, B., & Sivanathan, N.
    (2010) A clean self can render harsh moral judgment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(5), 859–862. 10.1016/j.jesp.2010.04.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2010.04.003 [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error