Body posture reflects emotional states, and this study investigates the effect of posture sitting in a slouched or upright position on recall of either negative (hopeless, helpless, powerless, or defeated) memories or positive (empowered or optimistic) memories. Two hundred and sixteen college students sat in either a slouched or an erect position while recalling negative memories and then in a second step, recalling positive memories. They then sat in the opposite body position while recalling negative and then positive memories. Eighty-six percent of the students reported that it was easier to recall/access negative memories in the collapsed position than in the erect position (p < .01), and 87% of the students reported that it was easier to recall/access positive images in the erect position than in the collapsed position (p < .01). Participants who reported being most depressed over the previous two years reported significantly more recall of negative memories in both the slouched position (p = .01) and erect position (p < .05). For those who were most depressed, there were no differences in recalling positive memories. We recommend that therapists teach clients posture awareness and to sit more upright in the office and at home as a strategy to increase positive affect and decrease depression.

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