A New York Times article by Amy Cuddy warns us about physical harm caused by the iPhone. Cuddy says our posture is taking a hit because of hunching over the phone, dubbed the iHunch by New Zealand physiotherapist Steve August.
Cuddy cites her own and others' work indicating that posture isn't just the result of our mood but could determine our mood. People slouch when they're fearful or depressed, but does slouching cause us to perform more poorly, or the opposite-does good posture improve performance? Cuddy cites several studies that indicate both.
Most relevant to business communication is probably the 2009 Japanese study of children's posture. When children were instructed to improve their posture, their "academic writing productivity increased."
To avoid posture problems, Cuddy offers this advice:
Keep your head up and shoulders back when looking at your phone, even if that means holding it at eye level. You can also try stretching and massaging the two muscle groups that are involved in the iHunch - those between the shoulder blades and the ones along the sides of the neck. This helps reduce scarring and restores elasticity.
Finally, the next time you reach for your phone, remember that it induces slouching, and slouching changes your mood, your memory and even your behavior. Your physical posture sculpts your psychological posture, and could be the key to a happier mood and greater self-confidence.
- How could you use this information in your personal life? Which of Cuddy's suggestions could you apply?
- Why do you think posture improved writing performance in the Japanese study? How well do you think the study of schoolchildren could translate to college students and business professionals?