Did You Know Guilt Has Weight?

Ever heard someone say she's weighed down by guilt?  Well, it's true.  You can actually feel the solidness of guilt.

According to medicalnewstoday.com, "Researchers have shown, through a series of experiments, that the heaviness of guilt is a very real thing. They found evidence that the emotions attached to guilt can be "grounded in subjective bodily sensation."

Researchers looked at something called "embodied cognition," which they say looks at how "thoughts and emotions can interact with the body to guide behavior," medicalnewstoday.com reports.

The study examined three ways in which guilt is often experienced --

  • whether unethical acts increased subjective experiences of weight
  • If feelings of guilt explain this effect, and
  • Whether the weight of guilt brings any consequences.
Researchers asked participants to recall something unethical they had done in the past, "including lying, stealing or cheating." Later, in a separate task, they asked the participants to rate their own subjective feelings of their body weight, the Web site relates.
Results showed that participants who recalled unethical acts reported heavier subjective body weight, compared with those in the control group.
In another study, the researchers tested whether remembering unethical memories would affect the participants' perceived effort to complete "helping behaviors," such as carrying groceries upstairs for someone (physical effort) or giving someone spare change (nonphysical)., medicalnewstoday.com notes.
The study found that the participants who were able to recall unethical memories "perceived that the physical tasks required greater effort, compared with the control group who did not think of unethical memories."
So what's the deal with this? "Although guilt is literally weightless," study authors concluded, "we demonstrate that the embodiment of guilt can have consequences as if it does indeed have weight."
Think about that the next time a cashier gives you too much change and you're tempted to just walk away!


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