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Gestures have timely impact on thought
People think differently about the passage of time based on gestures someone else uses while describing, say, a day’s events or the growth of a seed into a flower, Stanford University psychologist Barbara Tversky reported on November 17. In a series of experiments, Tversky’s colleague Azadeh Jamalian of Columbia University asked volunteers to diagram progressions of familiar events. While describing these tasks, Jamalian gestured in a straight line from left to right, gestured in a circle or made no gestures. Most individuals drew linear diagrams after seeing linear gestures and circular diagrams after seeing circular gestures. Linear diagrams predominated if no gestures were used, because people tend to conceive of time as running on a line, Tversky said. Gestures by another person can subtly alter that default notion of how time proceeds, she proposed.

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