Estimates in the Balance

The Wall Street Journal:

Body posture can influence how we estimate such things as age and size, a study shows.

Thirty-three undergraduates stood on a Wii Balance Board, a videogame-system accessory. Researchers surreptitiously manipulated the subjects’ stances, slightly tilting them, though an onscreen measure misled the students into thinking they were evenly balanced.

In each stance, students answered 13 questions, including the height of the Eiffel Tower, the size of the Netherlands and the life expectancy of a parrot. On average, participants gave smaller estimates when they leaned left than when they stood straight or leaned right—stances producing virtually identical results.

“Mental-number-line theory” accounted for the finding, the researchers said. We envision numbers as they appear on a ruler, rising from left to right. Leaning left nudged estimates lower.

Read the full story: The Wall Street Journal

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