More Than a Blood Pump: An Experimental Enquiry of the Folk Theory of the Heart


The present research sought to address an intriguing yet heretofore unanswered question with the tools of experimental psychology: Do people today still subscribe to the outdated folk belief that the heart is a mental organ, governing certain, if not all, aspects of mental life—a belief we termed cardiopsychism? The results from multiple experiments provided converging evidence for the conclusion that cardiopsychism is still very much alive in the minds of modern people. Aside from demonstrating the continued presence of cardiopsychism, we explored both the antecedent and consequence of holding this misconception. Through cross-cultural comparison, we found evidence suggesting that the conventionalized heart-expressions people speak might be responsible for perpetuating cardiopsychism. In addition, our hypothetical scenario study indicated that the perseverance of cardiopsychism might be more than just an innocuous glitch but could have real-world impacts.

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