Next time you talk about baby names with your partner, have a seat. But don’t sit just anywhere. Sit in a hard, cushion-free chair.
And your partner? Have your partner sit in a place that’s soft and comfy.
The reason has to do with embodied cognition, the theory that our bodies play a role in cognitive processing. Researchers in this field have found, for instance, that test subjects…
- Holding a heavy object judged job applicants to be more serious (than those holding a light object did).
- Holding a hard object judged job applicants to be more strict in character (than those holding a soft object did).
- Handling a rough object judged an ambiguous social interaction to be more adversarial (than those holding a smooth object did).
Just a few examples of the way physical sensations/movements influence how we think.*
Now back to bums!
One study asked participants to negotiate with a car salesman over the price of a car. Some of the participants sat in hard chairs. Others sat in soft chairs.
Did the type of chair make a difference in the negotiations?
Yes, it did:
Those seated in hard chairs judged their negotiating partner to be less emotional. Most significantly, the “buyers” in soft chairs increased their offer by nearly 40% more than those in hard chairs. In short, a hard chair not [only] changed the buyers’ perception of their negotiating partner, it made them harder bargainers.
So, to give yourself a leg up in baby name discussions, place your partner on the couch and bring out one of the stiff kitchen chairs for yourself. The special seating could turn you into the stronger negotiator.
*Another study found that test subjects holding a warm drink were “more warmly disposed” towards others than subjects holding an iced drink. One more reason to give your partner a steamy cup of coffee or tea as you talk names.
- Bennett, Drake. “Don’t just stand there, think.” Boston Globe 13 Jan. 2008.
- Dooley, Roger. “Seating Secret: How To Soften Up Your Prospects.” Neuromarketing 16 Feb. 2011.
- Keim, Brandon. “Sense of Touch Shapes Snap Judgments.” Wired Science 25 Jun. 2010.
- Ridgers, Bill. “How, and When, to Make a Decision.” Intelligent Life Summer 2011.