Taking pride in your posture

A simple but elegant study just published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that getting people to generate words about pride caused them to unknowingly raise their posture, while asking them to generate words about disappointment led to an involuntary slouch.

The research team, led by psychologist Suzanne Oosterwijk, asked people to list words related to ‘pride’ and ‘disappointment’, and some emotionally neutral control categories of ‘kitchen’ and ‘bathroom’, while being secretly filmed.

‘Pride’ caused a slight increase in posture height, while ‘disappointment’ caused the participants to markedly slouch.

The researchers suggest that the activation of the concept of disappointment led to a spontaneous bodily simulation of the feeling. They link this to the idea of embodied cognition that suggests that our mental life is fundamentally connected to acting on the world.

As we discussed last year, research has suggested that bodily expressions of pride and shame are the same across cultures, indicating that this connection between action and emotion may be a core part of our emotional make-up.

Link to abstract of study (via the BPSRD).


  1. Posted April 23, 2009 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    How interesting! Having found out that talking to my children about being proud of them is a confidence booster, now I find out it’s good for their posture too! Excellent!

  2. Posted April 28, 2009 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Dacher Keltner long time collaborator and partner of Paul Ekam was one of the first porponents of specific facial expression patterns for pride, embarrasment, awe, shame…
    Among the physical indexes conveyed in body posture, gait and face… for pride are: head tilt back, chest enhancement, slight smile…
    And researchers figure out the possibility of an innate expresion of pride only modulated diferentially by culture.

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