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Take your bad news lying down

August 26, 2009 |  8:55 am

Anger Here's an interesting question: Are emotional reactions influenced by whether you're sitting, standing or lying down?

A study published this week in the journal Psychological Science suggests they can be. The idea is not without some support. Other studies have shown that body movements affect emotions. For example, smiling will make people feel better even when they're sad and don't feel like smiling. And slouching leads to helpless behaviors. The new study tests the idea that anger can be tempered depending on body posture. It found that the part of the brain that becomes active when one feels angry was somewhat muted among people who were lying down when the emotion was triggered.

Researchers at Texas A&M University studied 46 college students who were told to write a short essay that would be evaluated by another participant. Brain-wave sensors were attached to each participant when they were evaluated. Some participates were left sitting upright in a chair while others were told to recline the chair so they were lying down. Those who were sitting up when their essays were insulted showed more activity in the left prefrontal cortex (the anger center) than those who were insulted while lying down.

It's possible that there is some other explanation for why those who were lying down reacted with less anger, the researchers said. But, they wrote, "it is also possible that some yet-to-be-discovered incidental physiological process occurred as a result of the supine manipulation."

Try it. It can't hurt. It may save you from blowing a gasket.

-- Shari Roan

Photo: Los Angeles Times