Washington, Aug 5: A simple change of body posture can help boost a student’s math scores, especially if they are known to fear the subject, a study has found.
Researchers at San Francisco State University in the US tested 125 college students to see how well they could perform simple math – subtracting 7 from 843 sequentially for 15 seconds – while either slumped over or sitting up straight with shoulders back and relaxed.
Fifty-six per cent of the students reported finding it easier to perform the math in the upright position. “For people who are anxious about math, posture makes a giant difference,” said Erik Peper, from San Francisco State University.
“The slumped-over position shuts them down and their brains do not work as well. They cannot think as clearly,” said Peper. Before the study began, students filled out an anonymous questionnaire asking them to rate their anxiety levels while taking exams and performing math; they also described any physical symptoms of stress they experienced during test taking.
Slumping over is a defensive posture that can trigger old negative memories in the body and brain, according to associate professor Richard Harvey. While the students without math anxiety did not report as great a benefit from better posture, they did find that doing math while slumped over was somewhat more difficult.
The findings about body position can help people prepare for many different types of performance under stress, not just math tests, researchers said. Athletes, musicians and public speakers can all benefit from better posture prior to and during their performance.
This could be particularly helpful to students facing the challenge called “stereotype threat,” said Lauren Mason, a recent SF State graduate. The study results demonstrate a simple way to improve many aspects of life, especially when stress is involved, researchers said. “The way we carry ourselves and interact in space influences not only how others perceive us but also how we perceive ourselves,” she said.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.