Embodied Cognition and Media Engagement: When the Loneliness of the Protagonist Makes the Reader Sense Coldness (and Vice Versa)

Nurit Tal-Or, Irene Razpurker-Apfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Embodied cognition research documents the interplay between physical sensations and corresponding psychological experiences within the individual. Accordingly, physical warmth leads to a sense of social inclusion, and being socially rejected leads to physical coldness. In the current research, we demonstrate that these embodied cognition relationships also apply to a media consumer and a media character with whom the consumer identifies. In Study 1, participants (N = 120) read one of four narratives in which we manipulated identification with the protagonist and her social exclusion/inclusion situation. In Study 2 (N = 120), the narrative described the protagonist experiencing coldness/warmth in high/low identification conditions. The findings suggest that when the character experiences either the physical or the psychological state, the identifying consumer consequently experiences either psychological feelings or physical sensations, respectively. We discuss potential limitations of the study and also its contribution to media psychology and to embodied cognition research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-476
Number of pages33
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of International Communication Association. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.


  • Embodied Cognition
  • Identification
  • Media Engagement
  • Social Inclusion/Exclusion
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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