Smartphones are now part of our lives. They allow us to keep connected. However, few people are aware that these devices can also influence their decisions, attitudes and behaviors.
A study conducted at the Harvard University indicates that the mobile size affects our level of assertiveness when we relate to others. In practice, people who have smaller phones are less assertive than those who use smartphones or other devices of more generous dimensions.
The smaller the device and you will be less likely to assert your rights
The experiment involved 75 people, who were divided randomly to perform different activities with different devices. The researchers employed the full range of the size of Apple products: iPod Touch, iPad, MacBook Pro and iMac.
Upon the completion of the tasks, the researcher turned to each participant and said to them: “I’ll be back in five minutes to inform you. So I will pay you and you will go. If I don’t come, please, come to find me at the reception.”
The researcher waited 10 minutes, so he could see what the response of participants to its delay was. Therefore, he saw that those who used smaller devices took more time to go and look for him compared to those who used larger screens. In fact, people who used an iPod Touch waited for 4.93 minutes, while those who used an iMac waited only 3.41 minutes before going to look for the scholar and ask for the payment.
The size of a screen affects the posture of the body making sure that you are more or less assertive
Researchers believe that the explanation lies in the posture that we take when we use these devices. When we use phones and tablets tend to press them more contracting body, closing on the device. In contrast, when we use a computer we assume a more open and expansive posture, we are not so tense.
In fact, this is not the first study that demonstrates the powerful effect that our postures have on our attitudes and decisions. A more open posture not only creates a feeling of power, but also increases our threshold of pain, improves our performance in stressful situations and decreases the level of cortisol, while increasing that of testosterone.
For example, it was found that the simple act of sitting up straight in a chair makes us feel more secure and confident, even in situations where are challenged our capabilities.
Therefore, a position that involves closing up on ourselves would make it less likely to claim our rights assertively and might even make us doubt our capabilities or that sometimes we feel inferior.
Of course, the use of a larger screen, or take a more open posture, are not enough to be more assertive, but it is important to be aware that the use of your smartphone could diminish your ability to be assertive and, under certain circumstances, such as before a job interview or an important event, it may be convenient not to use it because you’d be starting on the wrong foot.
Bos, M. & Cuddy, M. (2013) iPosture: The Size of Electronic Consumer Devices Affects Our Behavior. Harvard Business School Working Paper; 13: 097.
Briñol, P. et. Al. (2009) Body posture effects on self-evaluation: A self-validation approach. European Journal of Social Psychology; 39(6): 1053–1064.