Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2018

Department 1



Previous research has shown that desirability influences perceived distance to an object, such that desirable objects are perceived as closer to the viewer than undesirable objects (Balcetis & Dunning, 2010). Research regarding conceptual metaphors has suggested that making the head or heart salient by placing the index finger there produces characteristics commonly associated with these body parts (i.e., emotionality for the heart and rationality for the head) (Fetterman & Robinson, 2013). The current studies examined the effects of desirability and head or heart salience on distance perception. Participants had their attention drawn to their head or their heart by touching it with their index finger while throwing a beanbag towards a desirable or a neutral object. In Experiment 2, a verbal estimate of distance was also measured. We predicted that, due to the popular association of the heart with desire, there would be a significant interaction between desirability of an object and hand placement. Specifically, there would be no effect of hand placement when the object was neutral, but heart-pointers would perceive the desirable object as closer than head-pointers. Results from both studies failed to support the predictions, as neither hand placement nor object desirability affected distance perceptions. Limitations and suggestions for further research are discussed.


Written for Psych 315: Advanced Lab in Thinking and Cognition.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.