Imagined sensory experiences can shape person perception: it's a matter of visual perspective

Neil Macrae, Reginie Sunder Raj, Sarah Best, Brittany Christian, Lynden Miles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Psychological warmth serves as a fundamental dimension of human social cognition. From impressions of strangers to appraisals of groups, assessments of warmth (vs. coldness) comprise an elemental building block of social perception. Using embodiment as a guiding framework, research has demonstrated that perceptions of others along the warm-cold dimension can be elicited by sensory experiences (e.g., physical warmth). Here we show that effects of this kind can also be triggered by mentally simulating physical temperature, but only under certain theoretically important imagery conditions. Specifically, impressions of a target were impacted by imagined warmth or coldness (i.e., thinking about holding a cup of hot/iced coffee) only when an event was simulated from an egocentric (i.e., first-person) perspective. No such effect emerged when an allocentric (i.e., third-person) orientation was adopted. This finding underscores the functional nature of mental simulation and identifies spatial visual perspective as a critical boundary condition of embodied cognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-598
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date13 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • person perception
  • warm-cold effect
  • embodiment
  • spatial visual perspective


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