There are times in our lives when we make estimates about something – how far you have to travel, how long a task should take, how much to quote a customer for a job, etc. According to a research study from the Netherlands, people make their estimates based on the way their body is leaning. This is definitely a new qwirky approach to how our brain functions, and something new to learn about how our brain functions.

Researchers at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam have found that humans tend to estimate figures differently based on how their body is leaning. This could influence the way we make decisions. Their paper, published in Psychological Science, set out to prove that body stance can influence the way a person makes estimates.

The team of scientists, led by Anita Eerland, conducted two experiments to prove their belief that by subtly steering people to lean to the right or left their estimation of numbers can come out differently. Ninety-one undergraduate students volunteered to reply to estimation questions while standing on the balancing board of a Wii game. Their postures were manipulated through the video screen according to the way the researchers wanted them to lean, and the subjects were not aware of the changes that were taking place.

Balancing on the Wii board, volunteers and were asked to maintain a straight posture, and allow the computer screen in front of them to help them stay level. The researchers then tilted the bar slightly one-way or the other, or left it level.

One group of volunteers was asked to make visual estimations based on things they could see in their mind – such as the height of a building or the population of a city. The second group were asked to make guesses based on a scale from one to ten, about how many grandchildren Queen Beatrix has.

The groups from both experiments were split into six groups, with the only changes being the posture and order of the questions asked.

After the experiments, each volunteer was asked to complete a questionnaire to see if they had actually known any of the answers prior to the initial testing. They also were asked if they were aware their posture had been manipulated. None of the group knew any of the answers prior, so all the answers given were actually true estimates. None of them had been aware their posture had been manipulated.

When the results were in they were evaluated. The answers given by volunteers leaning to the left was on the lower side than those who leaned to the right or stood upright and level. For an example, those leaning to the left estimated the height of the Eiffel Tower as 12 meters shorter, on average, than those in the other groups.

Amazingly, the team found that our bodies actually have a say in the way most of us make decisions, whether we know it or not.

About the author:

Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memory keynote speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life.




Medical Press – Research suggests people underestimate numerical guesses when leaning left: