Tag Archives: risk

Postures Affect on Attitude


I know many people in the class are freshman so they most likely are not looking for internships right now, but as a word of advice through my experience with my own search, your attitude going into any type of meeting—whether it is with a teacher or potential employer—is the thing that will support you even when you don’t know everything that is asked of you. If people see that you are excited about getting work done and passionate about the subject then they are more likely to help you. Those things are shown through your attitude and the way you hold yourself. I am sensitive to the fact that some people aren’t as comfortable as other may be, but don’t let that discourage you if you feel that way. I strongly believe that the way we hold ourselves affects our general mood and outlook, so I decided to see if there was a scientific study that supported this idea (or even refuted it).

According to Scientific American, Dana Carney and Andy Yap from Columbia University and Amy Cuddy from Harvard University conducted a study that recorded one’s feeling of power and appetite for risk relative to the body positioning they were asked to enact: open, expansive postures—widespread limbs and enlargement of occupied space by spreading out one’s body—or closed, constructed postures—limbs touching the torso and collapsing the body. To measure the appetite for risk, these researchers gave participants $2 and told them they could keep this money or roll a die and risk losing the $2 for a payout of $4 (a risky but rational bet since the odds of winning were 50/50). The participants who had been placed in the expansive posture reported feeling significantly more “powerful” and “in charge”; they were also 45% more likely to roll the die. This study was published in Psychological Science, which acts as some form of credibility.

However, I am iffy about the execution of this experiment because a lot of details have been left out (I am not able to see the full experiment details because I need a subscription to Psychological Science). I can assume by the nature of the study that it was experimental and the independent variable was body positioning and the depended variable was expressed feeling of power and risk appetite. But they only tested two types of body postures on two opposite extremes. I think if they also took into account a group with neutral posture, they would have more telling results since it would show a progression of data since they already give a “relative risk” of what would happen if one takes an open posture. Also, I think it is important to state whom the experiment was conducted on—mostly age and gender—so see if there is a strong correlation in one group than other. I would guess that asking men to take a more dominant stance would have a money stronger effect on their feeling of power and risk appetite, but then again I could be wrong. Lastly, I would have liked there to be a progression of risk taking measures. Rolling a dice for a couple of dollars can only feel so risky, so maybe if they increased the dollar amount each time that they could win and lose by rolling the dice they could measure how much more risky someone was willing to be.

I remember that we talked about this in class one day in regards to psyching yourself up right before an interview to get yourself in the right frame of mind. When I looked around the lecture hall, I saw a bunch of people slumping over in the seats and not very engaged in the lecture. I even catch myself sometimes slouching in my chair in classes I don’t particularly enjoy, which makes me feel tired and disinterested. I know its anecdotal, but once I became conscious of what I was doing, I made an effort to sit up straight and be more attentive, and with that the class time passed with more ease and I was able to retain information better.

So looking at this experiment, I would say it is a toss up on whether or not someone should try out this technique of self-improvement. The lack of information isn’t very motivating since it is so vague. However, there is very little effort to just sit up a little straighter or have better posture overall, so giving it a try would hurt and you may actually benefit from it. As for me, it helps me stay awake and retain information better so I am going to keep doing it.