Size Matters In BYOD Posture Study From Harvard

How you behave with a laptop differs from how you behave holding a mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone, says a new study.

The study iPosture: The Size of Electronic Consumer Devices Affects Our Behavior finds, in abstract, that the larger the screen, the more assertive one is around others. Larger devices forces people to physically expand their presence (arms are spread wide as opposed to closely held) and therefore have more a dominate nature over others.

In a related blog Is Your iPhone Turning You Into A Whimp? researcher Maarten Bos, a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard Business School said "People are always interacting with their smartphones before a meeting begins, thinking of it as an efficient way to manage their time. We wanted to study how interacting with a device affected how people behave afterward."

Teh researchers had previously reported on how simple gestures, such as putting your hands on your hips or feet on your desk promotes testosterone and cortisol levels in the individual, they wanted to see what happens when a person whips out a tiny smartphone before going into a meeting.

One experiment, involving 75 volunteers, had some using laptops and some using smartphones. The first part had the participants gamble two dollars for a chance to continue to the second part of the experiment. There was no noticeable difference regarding gambling. However, when the experiment concluded the participants were told the examiner had to fill out some forms before they could be paid their $10 for the researcher. If the researcher wasn't back in 5 minutes, they were to find the researcher. Of course, the researcher didn't come back. And what they found was the 95 percent of the laptop users came and sound out the researcher, while only 50 percent of the iPod Touch users did.

The blog summarized the study as finding that "expansive body postures lead to power-related behaviors, even in cases where the posture is incidentally induced by the size of the gadget or computer."

So, next time you use your iPhone, be sure to spread your arms wide and thump your chest a few times to be taken seriously at work.