Slouching can make a person physically weaker, according to new research that also found “dominant,” or straight-and-erect, posture also lessens a person’s sensitivity to pain.

The study by investigators at the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles, and the J.L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, Canada, found that by simply adopting more dominant poses, people feel more powerful, in control and able to tolerate more distress. Out of the individuals studied, those who used the most dominant posture were able to comfortably handle more pain than those assigned a more neutral or submissive stance.

The investigators expanded on previous research that showed the posture of a person with whom you interact will affect your pose and behavior, according to a USC press release. In that study, they found those adopting a submissive pose in response to their partner’s dominant pose showed a lower threshold for pain.

The investigators propose that adopting a powerful, expansive posture rather than constricting your body may lead to elevated testosterone, which is associated with increased pain tolerance, and decreased cortisol, which may make an experience less stressful.

The study, “It Hurts When I Do This (or You Do That)” was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

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