Recent research shows that co-speech gestures can influence gesturers’ thought. This line of research suggests that the influence of gestures is so strong, that it can wash out and reverse an effect of learning. We argue that these findings need a more robust and ecologically valid test, which we provide in this article. Our results support the claim that gestures not only reflect information in our mental representations, but can also influence gesturer's thought by adding action information to one's mental representation during problem solving (Tower of Hanoi). We show, however, that the effect of gestures on subsequent performance is not as strong as previously suggested. As opposed to what previous research indicates, gestures' facilitative effect through learning was not nullified by the potentially interfering effect on subsequent problem-solving performance of incompatible gestures. To conclude, using gestures during problem solving seems to provide more benefits than costs for task performance.

embodied cognition, Gestures, mental representation, problem solving, Tower of Hanoi,
Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Department of Psychology

Wassenburg, S.I, de Koning, B.B, & van der Schoot, M. (2018). In which direction to move? Facilitative and interference effects of gestures on problem solver's thinking. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 1–7. doi:10.1080/20445911.2018.1432628