Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Power of Posture

Posture influences our mood, and negative emotions are associated with a stooped body posture. 

Research has examined whether posture impacts emotion regulation and stress resilience. 

  • Participants were asked to imagine a negative or neutral situation while sitting in a slumped, straight, or self-selected position.  People in a stooped posture experienced greater negative moods, and were slower to recover from their negative moods, than those who sat up straight.
  • Participants were asked to imagine the death of a close friend.  Those who were stooping recovered from their negative mood more slowly than those who sat up straight.
  • Participants were randomly assigned to slumped or upright positions.  They were given reading and social stress speech tasks, and their mood, self-esteem, and perception of threat were assessed.  The upright participants reported higher self-esteem, increased positive mood, and reduced negative mood compared to the stooped participants.
  • When people are encouraged to sit up straight and smile, they recall positive autobiographical memories quicker than negative ones. 

Takeaway: Good posture is an emotion regulation and stress resilience strategy.  Sitting up straight enhances self-esteem, increases positive moods, and helps us recover faster from negative moods.

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Sources

Lotte Veenstra, Iris Schneider, and Sander Koole, Embodied Mood Regulation: The Impact of Body Posture on Mood Recovery, Negative Thoughts, and Mood-Congruent Recall. Cogn Emot., 31(7):1361-1376, Nov 2017, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27626675/

Nair S, Sagar M, Sollers J 3rd, Consedine N, Broadbent E., Do Slumped and Upright Postures Affect Stress Responses? A Randomized Trial. Health Psychol., 34(6):632-41, Jun 2015, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25222091/

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