Sit in a Wobbly Chair, See People You Think Unstable

Ever sat in a wobbly chair? According to new research, "It makes us judge others’ relationships to be unstable. Wearing a white lab coat, thought to be a doctor’s coat, helps our concentration and focus. Literally washing our hands rids us of guilty feelings," Christie Nicholson writes at smartplanet.com. 

We've known for some time that the body can affect the mind -- relax and you'll get pregnant (not true!), think of the audience in underpants when nervous before a speech, don't walk under a ladder.  Oh wait, that's a superstition. But still we believe it and it can sometimes actually make us trip or fall down stairs or have some kind of accident, when we do.

But now it's becoming clear to researchers that our bodies can affect our minds.  Nicholson did a Q&A with Art Glenberg, who she described in her story as one of the "founding fathers of the embodied cognition field," and a pyschology professor at Arizona State University. In the interview he talked o her about the extent "the neural and bodily systems of emotion play a role in understanding language about emotional experiences."

Glenberg did some research by creating sentences that tapped into sad or happy emotions, like "it's your birthday and your email inbox is empty."    Glenberg said they came to the conclusion that frowning was not just an expression of emotion, but actually intensified it, leading them to realize that our understanding .of our emotions can affect them.

He conducted the experiment with women before and after Botox injections. Botox relaxes the forehead muscle. 

"When people could frown — they were faster to understand the angry and sad sentences," Glenberg told Nicholson. 

In other words, "Our bodies are central to our cognitive processes," as Nicholson wrote.



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