Some time ago, we learned that our body impacts our thinking. For example, we lean forwards when reflecting on our future and backwards when remembering our past. Now researchers found that our posture also impacts our estimation of numbers.
Anita Eerland, Tulio Guadalupe and Rolf Zwaan from Erasmus University in Rotterdam based their study on the fact that people mentally represent numbers on a line with smaller numbers on the left and larger numbers on the right. They made their study participants lean either to the left or to the right or stay centered and then had them estimate numbers like for example the height of the Eiffel Tower or how many number-one hits Michael Jackson had. The participants did not notice the manipulation of their posture. They found that estimates were significantly smaller when people were leaning to the left during decision making than when they were centered or leaning to the right. Thus, which way we lean seems to have an impact on our estimation of numbers.
The original article was published in the journal Psychological Science, and there is an outline of the two studies the authors conducted on the Association of Psychological Science homepage.
This study once more shows that we don’t think as rationally as we expect. However, it is something we can become aware of and then consciously base our judgments on facts.