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Body Language

Unravel Problems by Folding Your Arms

Learn how to position yourself to persevere.

Everyone knows our brains control our bodies, but did you know our bodies can control our brains too? A 2007 study by Ron Friedman and Andrew Elliot published in the European Journal of Social Psychology revealed how moving our bodies can move our minds and even help us solve difficult problems. In two related experiments, Friedman and Elliot found that those participants who crossed their arms when attempting to solve complex word jumbles were more likely to persevere and eventually succeed.

Crossing our arms, Friedman and Elliot argued, sends our a brains a "proprioceptive cue." "Proprioception" is the scientific term for our perception of the relative position of our body parts. When our arms are crossed it tells the brain to buckle down and get ready to work through a difficult problem. So next time you're faced with a protracted project or a tough task, cross your arms to see it to a speedy, successful conclusion. Just remember, while our brains perceive crossed arms as a sign of perseverance, others may perceive it as a sign of boredom. Body language can mean many different things to different people in different situations-it's part of what makes the field so exciting!

By Janine Driver, author of YOU SAY MORE THAN YOU THINK (Crown, 2/16)

image source:, Forest Runner

About the Author
Janine Driver

Janine Driver is a popular media guest, sales trainer, retired Federal Law Enforcement Officer, and president of the Body Language Institute.

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