If you find yourself slumping over your desk and wondering if your work is good enough, pay particular attention: researchers from Ohio State University have found that people who were told to sit up straight in their chairs were more likely to believe thoughts that they were writing down about how qualified for a job they were--they had greater confidence in their own thoughts. The results show how our body posture can affect not only how others perceive us, but also how we perceive ourselves, said Richard Petty, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at the University.
"Most of us were taught that sitting up straight gives a good impression to other people," Petty said in a press release. "But it turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves. If you sit up straight, you end up convincing yourself by the posture you're in."
The study, which appeared in the October issue of the European Journal of Social Psychology, included 71 students who were instructed to either "sit up straight" and "push out [their] chest]" or "sit slouched forward" with their "face looking at [their] knees" while typing at a computer. Students then were told to list either three positive or three negative personal traits relating to future professional performance on the job. After completing this task, the students took a survey in which they rated themselves on how well they would do as a future professional employee.
The end result of this was that when students wrote positive thoughts about themselves, they rated themselves more highly when in the upright than the slouched posture because the upright posture led to confidence in the positive thoughts. However, when students wrote negative thoughts about themselves, they rated themselves more negatively in the upright than the slouched posture because the upright posture led to more confidence in their negative thoughts.
This research speaks to the very real influence of body language on stress levels--sometimes we feel stressed and tend to tense up, slouch, and hunch over, not realizing that this not only leads to more shallow breathing, but to feeling less confident on a job (read: more stressed). It can also impact the effect positive affirmations have on you--do you believe yourself when you write them down, and how is that belief related to the effectiveness of the affirmations and the level of your stress?
As you're reading this, and throughout the day, I'd like you to become more aware of how you're holding your body. Sit up straight if you're slouching. Relax your shoulders if you find them tensed. Breathe from your belly if you realize your breathing is shallow and constricted (try these breathing exercises). And smile!
Does that make a difference?
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