Shades of Expansiveness: Postural Expression of Dominance, High-Arousal Positive Affect, and Warmth

Patty Van Cappellen, Megan E. Edwards, Michelle N. Shiota

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In addition to the face, bodily posture plays an important role in communicating affective states. Postural expansion—how much space the body takes up—has been much studied as expressing and signaling dominance and pride. The present research aimed to expand research on the range of affect dimensions and affect-laden personality characteristics that are expressed via expansiveness, investigating specific forms of expansiveness and their interactions with other postural elements (e.g., arm position). Using an innovative expression-production method, Study 1 (N = 146) characterized full-body expressions of dominance, joy, hope, and awe; results indicated joy is communicated most expansively and suggested a signature arm position for most feelings. Studies 2 and 3 (Ns = 352 and 183) revealed that other postural features interact with expansiveness to signal dominance (arms akimbo, head raised, stability), as distinct from high-arousal positive affect (arms high up, head raised) and warmth (arms high up, head raised, instability). Together, this research adds needed data on full-body expressions of positive affect states and provides systematic analysis of different affective messages and varieties of postural expansiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)973-985
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • dominance
  • embodiment
  • nonverbal
  • positive emotion
  • posture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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