Sitting posture makes a difference-embodiment effects on depressive memory bias

Clin Psychol Psychother. Nov-Dec 2014;21(6):519-24. doi: 10.1002/cpp.1890. Epub 2014 Feb 27.


Basic research has shown that the motoric system (i.e., motor actions or stable postures) can strongly affect emotional processes. The present study sought to investigate the effects of sitting posture on the tendency of depressed individuals to recall a higher proportion of negative self-referent material. Thirty currently depressed inpatients either sat in a slumped (depressed) or in an upright (non-depressed) posture while imagining a visual scene of themselves in connection with positive or depression related words presented to them on a computer screen. An incidental recall test of these words was conducted after a distraction task. Results of a mixed ANOVA showed a significant posture x word type interaction, with upright-sitting patients showing unbiased recall of positive and negative words but slumped patients showing recall biased towards more negative words. The findings indicate that relatively minor changes in the motoric system can affect one of the best-documented cognitive biases in depression. Practical implications of the findings are discussed.

Keywords: Body; Depression; Embodiment; Memory.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bias
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Posture*
  • Young Adult