We are wondering how our body posture expresses and affects our feelings towards other people. Many studies show that our body language, facial expressions, and posture say more about how we feel than what we say (Karandashev, 2021).
Both what we say and how we act show how we feel about each other and how much we love them. What we show with our faces and bodies is just as important as what we say. Even if we say, “I love you,” our body language can say something different. Sometimes the way we stand says more about us than what we say. Studies show that our body language, facial expressions, and posture say more about how we feel than what we say.
What a New Study Revealed
Recent research by Patty Van Cappellen at Duke University suggests that others can read our emotions from our body language. It might come as a surprise, but our body posture also conveys our emotions in addition to the way our faces do.
Researchers found that open postures with the arms held high showed positive feelings like warmth and extraversion. When people stood with their arms outstretched, it was a sign of power and anger. This backs up the idea that people use body language to figure out how other people feel.
Our Posture Affects Our Feelings
These findings raise an intriguing question: Do postures only communicate our feelings, or can adopting a specific posture change how we feel?
Van Cappellen and her colleagues conducted another study to find out whether expansive and upward posture facilitates the experience of positive affect.
Participants in the study were asked to adopt one of three poses:
- hands raised and head lifted;
- hands folded in front, head looking down; or
- arms at sides and looking straight ahead.
During the study, participants wore sensors to measure their nervous system and cardiac function. Researchers told them that the experiment was about the physiological and emotional reactions people had to music. They listened to emotionally ambiguous music (by Enya) while holding their pose for two minutes to ensure that they didn’t know that the researchers were interested in posture.
The participants were then asked to describe their feelings after listening to the music, and their feelings were compared to the physiological markers being monitored. The findings demonstrated that participants in a posture with raised arms and heads tilted upward had a more positive overall feeling than participants in other poses.
What the Study Found
“This study shows that assuming particular postures can create or construct an emotion experience. A typical joy posture elicits more positive emotions than other postures.”as Van Cappellen said.
It’s unclear why this effect is happening. In any case, this research suggests that our body posture aids in expressing our emotions and may also aid us in experiencing certain emotions. This could have a significant effect. It is obviously useful to know how we and others feel in a given situation.
“Emotion expression is what enables social relationships, and we’re showing that you could potentially rewire yourself using different postures. It’s critical that we get more information about what these postures look like and what they express. Otherwise, we can get this wrong.”as Van Cappellen concluded.