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Embodied mood regulation: the impact of body posture on mood recovery, negative thoughts, and mood-congruent recall

posted on 14.09.2016, 21:44 by Lotte Veenstra, Iris K. Schneider, Sander L. Koole

Previous work has shown that a stooped posture may activate negative mood. Extending this work, the present experiments examine how stooped body posture influences recovery from pre-existing negative mood. In Experiment 1 (n = 229), participants were randomly assigned to receive either a negative or neutral mood induction, after which participants were instructed to take either a stooped, straight, or control posture while writing down their thoughts. Stooped posture (compared to straight or control postures) led to less mood recovery in the negative mood condition, and more negative mood in the neutral mood condition. Furthermore, stooped posture led to more negative thoughts overall compared to straight or control postures. In Experiment 2 (n = 122), all participants underwent a negative mood induction, after which half received cognitive reappraisal instructions and half received no instructions. Mood-congruent cognitions were assessed through autobiographical memory recall. Again, stooped (compared to straight) position led to less mood recovery. Notably, this was independent of regulation instruction. These findings demonstrate for the first time that posture plays an important role in recovering from negative mood.


This work was supported by a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council [grant number ERC-2011-StG_20101124], awarded to Sander L. Koole.