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Study: The Bigger Your Device, The More Assertive You Become

By William Peacock, Esq. on June 25, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

No, that is not a euphemism.

We have many choices for electronic devices, from iPhones to full-sized iPads, and even desktop computers, but did you know that the choice of device may actually affect how assertive you are?

That’s right, according to research by Harvard Business School professors Maarten Bos and Amy Cuddy, those of you with a 3.5 inch iPhone screen are apparently more timid than someone sporting a 23 inch iMac.

Let's hope those rumors of an even bigger iPhone come true.

The reason for the assertiveness disparity lies in body posture. Prior research has indicated that a more expansive posture, such as leaning in to the table with arms spread wide,

"increases people's feelings of power and willingness to gamble, raises their pain threshold, improves their performance in job interviews, increases their testosterone (associated with fearlessness and dominance [ ]) and decreases their cortisol (associated with stress [ ])." (Internal citations omitted.)

Even those not prone to assertive behavior and the other benefits of expansive posturing could reap the benefits by adopting such a posture for just two minutes before the experiment. Conversely, those who sit back from the table, with arms and legs crossed, are inclined to be less assertive.

This study took 75 participants and assigned them an iPod Touch, an iPad, a MacBook Pro, or an iMac (here is a size comparison chart). The correlation between size and assertiveness was clear, as those with smaller devices waited longer to interrupt the experimenter who had left them waiting.

The researchers posit that larger devices forced a more expansive body posture, and by extension, a more assertive disposition.

Pretty neat right? If you've been debating between one of the smaller 7 to 8 inch tablets and a larger 10 inch tablet, does this affect your decision? And for that annoying know-it-all associate attorney, are you now going to lock them in a room with an iPod Nano?

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