Sit Straight, Build Confidence

Sitting straight

We know that making ourselves smile or frown can actually influence our mood, and now it seems that the posture we assume can affect our confidence in our own thoughts. A study by Richard Petty, who apparently is not the NASCAR driver but rather a professor at Ohio State University, demostrated the effects of sitting up straight:

Researchers found that people who were told to sit up straight were more likely to believe thoughts they wrote down while in that posture concerning whether they were qualified for a job. On the other hand, those who were slumped over their desks were less likely to accept these written-down feelings about their own qualifications…

How the students rated themselves as future professionals depended on which posture they held as they wrote the positive or negative traits. Students who held the upright, confident posture were much more likely to rate themselves in line with the positive or negative traits they wrote down. [From e! Science News - Study: Body posture affects confidence in your own thoughts.]

The researchers determined that the test subjects weren’t aware of their altered levels of confidence.

This is just another indication that there seems to be a feedback loop in our bodies that works both ways. Our mood can influence our facial expressions and posture, but it seems that adopting those expressions and postures can also affect our brain.

Now, sit up straight! And, while you are at it, let’s see a big smile, too! :)


This post was written by:

— who has written 985 posts on Neuromarketing.

Roger Dooley writes and speaks about marketing, and in particular the use of neuroscience and behavioral research to make advertising, marketing, and products better. He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and founder of Dooley Direct LLC, a marketing consultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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9 responses to "Sit Straight, Build Confidence" — Your Turn


Jeffrey Tang 12. October 2009 at 6:04 pm

Interesting study. Was there also a correlation between sitting up straight and thinking positively? Or was there simply a correlation between posture and believing self-judgments?


Yolanda Facio 12. October 2009 at 6:07 pm

Excellent post. Thank you for sharing. I’m a big fan of “brain stuff” and had not seen this research before. I’m not surprised. How we feel about ourselves really affects our level of confidence. There is obviously a brain connect between how we perceive ourselves when we sit up straight or smile, etc. The brain is a very powerful thing!


Twitter: RealTaiji
12. October 2009 at 6:15 pm

Yep. I’m with you: posture effect and affects so many aspects of life and living. I only hope my subjects develop awareness of shifts in confidence.

Nice succinct article.


Conor Neill 12. October 2009 at 7:00 pm

Thanks. I recently heard Mario Alonso Puig speak at the Entrepreneur’s Organisation University in Barcelona. Mario Alonso Puig is a brain surgeon who has spent 30 years looking at the changes in the brain caused by stress, negativity, depression and the role of the “little voice”. I was amazed to see the changes in chemical composition (hormones, steroids) due to a small negative thought (especially in categories of hopelessness, worthlessness or helplessness). The body is the first thing to take control of in order to get back control of our rational brain function. The full post is here


margreet 13. October 2009 at 3:16 am

Conor, youre absolutely right! Did you know that 1 negative tought that brings stress, shuts down youre whole immume system for 5 minutes? Becarefull wath you think!

Sitting up straight opens up youre upper body so you can breath better from the belly. Youre brain gets more oxygen, so you can concentrate better, see more, take more in and it gives more energy. It’s very logic! Great post!


Alex Lim 13. October 2009 at 6:34 am

I thought it was the other way around, but this study yielded to some interesting results. Unconsciously, we do this during job interviews or like when we are having picture takings (we thought we will look good when we sit up straight) or it’s just me? Anyways, this is such an informative post. This is an additional benefit in practicing good posture. How I wish I was more conscious before about this matter, it is quite difficult to change your habits once you’re getting old, yet I believe it’s not too late.


Roger Dooley
Twitter: rogerdooley
13. October 2009 at 8:31 am

It is tough to change habits, Alex. My office chair has a back angle adjustment, though, and I straightened it a notch.

Even before reading this article I found myself more comfortable writing when seated in a straighter chair than when sprawled in an easy chair with my computer in my lap. Not sure if that’s an effect like the one found in this study, or just simple ergonomics.



cbrancheau 14. October 2009 at 10:51 am

Interesting. I was at a meeting recently and was focusing on walking with better posture. After a while, I realized that I felt better mentally. Guess there was something to it after all.


Andrea Caldecourt 24. November 2009 at 12:22 pm

Has anyone researched thinking while standing versus sitting versus laying down?
I think more decisively standing up; I think more imaginatively in a more relaxed posture(which may be why psychiatrists have couches…?)Is this true for others?


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