Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Which way you lean -- physically -- affects your decision-making

Date:
November 8, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
We're not always aware of how we are making a decision. Unconscious feelings or perceptions may influence us. Another important source of information -- even if we're unaware of it -- is the body itself.

We're not always aware of how we are making a decision. Unconscious feelings or perceptions may influence us. Another important source of information -- even if we're unaware of it -- is the body itself.

"Decision making, like other cognitive processes, is an integration of multiple sources of information -- memory, visual imagery, and bodily information, like posture," says Anita Eerland, a psychologist at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands. In a new study, Eerland and colleagues Tulio Guadalupe and Rolf Zwaan found that surreptitiously manipulating the tilt of the body influences people's estimates of quantities, such as sizes, numbers, or percentages. The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.

When we think about numbers, we mentally represent smaller numbers to the left and larger numbers to the right. The researchers surmised that leaning one way or the other -- even imperceptibly -- might therefore nudge people to estimate lower or higher. To test this hypothesis, study participants -- 33 undergraduates -- stood on a Wii Balance Board that imperceptibly manipulated their posture to tilt left or right or stay upright while they answered estimation questions appearing on a screen. The participants were told they probably didn't know the answers and therefore would have to estimate; they were also instructed to stand upright throughout the trials. A representation on the screen, below the question, of the person's posture showed it to be upright even when it was not. The participants answered the questions one by one verbally.

In the first experiment, the estimations were of different kinds of quantities -- e.g., the height of the Eiffel Tower or percentage of alcohol in whiskey. In the second, the quantities were all of the same kind -- How many grandchildren does Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands have? How many Number 1 hits did Michael Jackson have in the Netherlands? The answers were all between 1 and 10.

As expected, participants gave smaller estimations when leaning left than when either leaning right or standing upright. There was no difference in their estimates between right-leaning and upright postures.

The researchers point out that body posture won't make you answer incorrectly if you know the answer. "Your body posture may nudge your estimates in a particular direction," says Zwaan. Adds Eerland: "Posture doesn't overwrite knowledge."

Still, says Zwaan, we should not mistake our cognitive processes as perfectly and consciously rational. "Decision-making is not a pristine process. All sources of information creep into it, and we are just beginning to explore the role of the body in this."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Anita Eerland et al. Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller: Posture-Modulated Thought. Psychological Science, 2011

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Which way you lean -- physically -- affects your decision-making." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111108133053.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, November 8). Which way you lean -- physically -- affects your decision-making. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111108133053.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Which way you lean -- physically -- affects your decision-making." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111108133053.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins