Your mother kept telling you to sit up straight and she was right!
People sitting up straight rather than in a hunched position report a better mood, higher self-esteem and a host of other benefits.
Sitting up straight has even been shown to improve memory.
For the research, people answered mock job-interview questions.
Some sat slouched, while others were upright.
The study’s authors explain the results:
“The upright participants reported feeling more enthusiastic, excited, and strong, while the slumped participants reported feeling more fearful, hostile, nervous, quiet, still, passive, dull, sleepy, and sluggish.
The upright participants also reported higher self-esteem and reduced fear compared to slumped participants.”
The authors think the simple act of sitting up straight may help build people’s ability to withstand stress:
“Adopting an upright seated posture in the face of stress can maintain self-esteem, reduce negative mood, and increase positive mood compared to a slumped posture.
Furthermore, sitting upright increases rate of speech and reduces self-focus.
Sitting upright may be a simple behavioral strategy to help build resilience to stress.
The research is consistent with embodied cognition theories that muscular and autonomic states influence emotional responding.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Health Psychology (Nair et al., 2015).