a pile of tools of all sorts

Entooled Cognition

Consider this quote from Catie Lazarus in a recent Fast Company article:

My dad always told me that when you’re handed a test, put your pencil down and don’t write a thing.

My post today is the next in a series of posts: from embodied cognition to enclothed cognition and now entooled cognition. The basic premise of all of these phenomena is that physical priming can exert a much stronger influence than mental priming can. If the concept of old age is primed in your mind, you will unconsciously walk slower to the elevator when leaving the room (at least at the population average level – I don’t know about you personally). But if you are placed in a physical posture typical of an old person, it will have a stronger effect. And if you are wearing attire typical of an older person, that will have an effect that is stronger still.

So entooled cognition is the next step in this continuum. Think of the adage “When you are holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That may have resonated with you even before you knew about priming. Now we know why it occurs. The purpose of the quote (which she relates as having been advice from her dad) is the countermeasure against entooled priming. If you are holding the pen, entooled cognition is going to prime you to start writing. So if you want to hold back, to resist the urge to jump right in, you can just try to ignore it. But of course the influence is largely unconscious. So it is even better to put down the pencil. Or the mouse. Or the smart phone.

Image credit: “Hand tools” by M338 used under public domain

One thought on “Entooled Cognition”

  1. This is another great example. Do you want to be more creative? Just prime yourself correctly – with the right paper.

    blogs.hbr.org/2014/07/the-magical-power-of-touched-objects-really-works-if-you-believe

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