When hearts, hands, and feet trump brains: Centralist versus peripheralist responses in children and adults


Correspondence should be addressed to Professor Gerald A. Winer, Department of Psychology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA (e-mail: winer.1@osu.edu).


A series of studies examined the presence of centralist versus peripheralist responding about the physical location of psychological processes. Centralists respond that processes such as cognition and emotion are a function of the brain. Peripheralists respond that such processes are located in other parts of the body, such as the heart. Although peripheralist responses declined across grade levels, even older children and adults often gave peripheralist answers, depending on the context of the questions. Peripheralist responses occurred when participants were asked about the effect of switching irrelevant body parts between two people and when they were asked to choose a different body part among four choices. Results also showed adults' responses varied with different contextual cues. The findings support a coexistence model of development which argues for the simultaneous presence of developmentally advanced reasoning or scientifically based knowledge along with presumably less advanced, intuitive-based reasoning, or folk beliefs.