How good is your love life? Think on both feet

Balancing on one leg may test the stability not just of your body but also of your marriage, according to a remarkable new study of how bodily posture may affect emotional thinking.
The findings add to an emerging area of science known as embodied cognition, which studies interconnections between our physiology and our feelings. To understand embodied cognition, think for a mo ment about the word feeling, which refers both to a sentiment or emotion, and to the tactile process of touching something.

To scientists involved in embodied cognition, those two meanings overlap in unexpected and vibrant ways. Past studies have shown, for instance, that people who hold a warm cup of coffee tend to consider strangers as likely to be more friendly and "warm" than do people who hold a cup of iced coffee.

So for the new study , published last month in Psychological Science, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Waterloo in Canada decided to examine stability , turbulence and love.

To see how stability plays out among couples, researchers recruited a small group of students who reported being in a committed relationship that had lasted for at least a year. The researchers then randomly assigned half of the volunteers to sit at a normal desk and the other half to sit at workstations that had been subtly altered so that both the chair and the desk wiggled slightly. Afterward, the researchers found a strong correlation between wobbly work spaces and wobbly romantic pairings. Students who had been seated at unstable work stations were much more likely to perceive instability in their love lives than those whose chairs and work spaces didn't waver.

For the next portion of the study , researchers used an online portal to recruit a larger and more diverse group of volunteers, including older people, some of whom had been married for years. Researchers asked all the volunteers to position themselves in front of a computer with half of them standing on one leg, while the rest remained on both feet.

The researchers had them, while still on one or both feet, compose a note to their loved one. Overwhelmingly , those who wobbled on one leg rated their relationships as more unstable and less likely to last than those who stood on both feet.

For now, findings suggest that when contemplating the state of your relationship you should stand with both feet firmly on the ground, or sit in a sturdy , well-balanced chair, and that despite the stories we told ourselves as children, Weeble marriages are all doomed.

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