60-Second Mind

Wobbly Chairs May Affect Your Values

A study finds that unstable furniture can influence how we feel about our relationships. Christie Nicholson reports

A wobbly chair is more than just annoying. Believe it or not, it can influence your values, or beliefs about others.

Past studies have shown a link between physical objects and our emotions. Carry a cold drink at a party and you’re likely to consider other guests cold and offputting.  Hold a warm drink, and you tend to perceive those same people as warm and welcoming.

In a new study, subjects sat either on wobbly chairs or stable chairs. While seated, they were asked to gauge the stability of several celebrity relationships, for example, Jay-Z and Beyonce.

Subjects in wobbly chairs judged the celebs to be more likely to break apart, while those who sat on a solid chair felt the celebrity relationships were also solid and more likely to remain intact.  The study is in the journal Psychological Science.

The participants were also asked to prioritize what traits they admire in a romantic partner—things like being trustworthy, reliable or adventurous.

And those perched on wobbly chairs valued stable traits—like reliability—highest. While those in sturdy chairs were less interested in stability, presumably because they felt like they were already firmly grounded.

—Christie NIcholson

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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