Can our bodies change our minds?

Raise your arms high above your head and your testosterone levels will rise and make you more likely to take risks….

Wash your hands and you will rate yourself as less guilty…

Hold a pen in your teeth (using the same muscles as smiling) and you will rate things more positively….

Clench your fists and you will exercise more will power…

Hold a heavy clipboard and you will judge currencies as more valuable and their opinions and leaders to be more important

Fold your arms and you will persevere twice as long on a difficult task….

If botox treatment has paralysed some of your smile or frown muscles, you will feel emotions less intensely

If you’ve just stepped off a scary roller coaster ride (so your heart rate is up and your palms are sweaty) you will rate a stranger as more attractive….

If you are instructed to nod your head as you listen to an argument, you are more likely to agree with it….

If you are holding a hot drink, you more likely to rate a stranger’s personality as warm and friendly and rate yourself as feeling less lonely….

If you lean your body to the left, you are likely to underestimate the magnitude of things….

If you are instructed to push an object away from you, you will dislike it more…

If a hidden fart spray makes your face screw up, you are more likely to rate others’ behaviour as immoral

If you hold your hand on your heart, you not only give the impression of being honest, you will actually be more honest in your judgements….

If you are involved in a negotiation, you are more likely to adopt a hard line if you are sitting on a hard seat. …

And perhaps my favourite – if you sit in a box rather than next to it, you won’t be as creative …

Some of these  ‘embodied cognition’ experimental findings are more robust than others but their growing number and variety certainly makes you think – and, if you go and lie down, you are more likely to come up with some insights of your own about their applicability to behaviour change! Make sure you are not lying down inside a box though….

About Alison Kidd

Research Psychologist
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1 Response to Can our bodies change our minds?

  1. innocent_bikestander says:

    This is great! Amy Cuddy, the researcher who looked at Testosterone levels and power poses did a very moving TED talk on it too. You can see that here:

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