How close are you to the Internet? I don’t mean the degree to which you feel connected to it; nor do I mean how much understanding you have of it. No, I actually mean how close are you physically? What’s the distance, right now, between your face and your computer screen? Probably between 18 and 24 inches, if you’re like most people.
However, new research suggests you might be able to improve your online performance if you back off from the web – literally. Psychologists in Holland, at the University if Nijmegen have shown that there is a link between your physical situation and your ability to think.
For many years psychologists have been able to show associations between body language and cognitive capabilities. For instance, when we do not want to think about something, we often use a pushing away motion with our hands. We are literally pushing away the thought, it seems. Other body movements and our thinking patterns have also been established over the years.
What the Dutch scientists have now done is extend that knowledge by showing there is a distinct improvement in our ability to think when we change our body position. They were looking at the “Stroop effect“. This is a standard psychological test in which the words of colours are printed in text of other colours and you have to say either which colour you see, or which colour you read.
When participants in the study were asked to step backwards from the test, their ability to perform the test accurately increased significantly. Literally taking a step backwards appeared to give them the space to think.
Working at computers this could be especially important. Sitting close to the computer screen could hamper your ability to think or to solve problems. The study suggests that if you need to consider things more carefully you’d be more likely to succeed if you lean back in your chair, or move away from the computer.
It also suggests another physical possibility. If you want to get closer to your customers online, or feel more connected to your online community in Facebook or Twitter, moving forwards towards your computer screen could have an impact. There is clearly a link between your physicality and your thinking ability and patterns – not taking it into account could affect your business performance.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+