Power, ethics, and chairs

Here’s an interesting study I found in the current issue of the Harvard Business Review (November 2013). It should prove useful in nonverbal communication but really in any course in which ethics, power, or environment are considered. In brief, the study explored the relationship between the size of one’s chair (which allows for body expansion or encourages contraction) and the tendency to engage in unethical behavior. For example, random selected participants were placed in large or small chairs. All the participants were purposely overpaid but 78% of those in expansive postures kept the extra overpayment while only 38% of those in contractive postures did. Well, there is much more to the study which you can read at http://www.andyjyap.com/#!reserach/cm8a--the website of the lead author, Andy Yap. The HBR discussion, however, is also interesting because it’s a part of their feature, “Defend Your Research” and so there’s a brief 2-page interview with Yap in which he explains some of the implications and limitations of the study.


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