Don’t Fence Me In

georgereevesNeed more data on how interior states and so-called private dispositions are actually products of prior, social, publicly observable and thus contingent situations that can be manipulated? Then have a listen to this recent radio report on how such a seemingly simple thing as posture is linked to research subjects’ reports of feeling powerful and how the way we stand or sit affects our behavior (i.e., people driving more aggressively when sprawled out in a large automobile).

While I wouldn’t want to sanction the conclusions about being ethical or not, it does make evident that socially-managed experiences of power, confidence, security, and authority lead people to feel far more comfortable working outside the rules that others usually follow (“cheat” as the report phrases it).

So when your mom told you not to slouch and to sit up straight, there was more social engineering going on than you might have realized — better put, experiential engineering and self-identity creation.

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