Post 510  by Gautam Shah



Posturing or posture taking is part of conscious and subconscious behaviour. Postures are body’s individual positions or sequences of behaviours that reflect the subconscious reality and also present intentional or impressionistic expressions. Gestures are accompanied by posturing. Gestures are articulated with the hands, arms or body, and also include small moves of the head, face, eyes and nose (winking, nodding, twitching of nose, or rolling of eyes). Gestures are also, both, speech related and independent of it. Speech-independent gestures reinforce the behavioural expression.

Wikipedia Image source Gossiping. Author DuncanCV

● A wave hello or peace signs are examples of speech-independent gestures. Gestures such as dance Mudra represent very abstracted information that is relevant to a culture specific group. Speech related gestures are used parallel to the speech, to provide supplemental information.

Reagan office staff meeting 1981

Postures are of two types: axially balanced or skewed. Balanced postures are mirror-image (congruent) postures, such as left-right, equally posed with two feet, two hands, etc., or are normal like the frontal face, upright torso, erect neck, straight eye level, etc. Skewed postures reflect a readiness to transfer to another posture, due to shift in interest, boredom or tiredness. Both types of postures could be unstable, and cannot be maintained for a very long period. It requires some relief or support system. The support for balanced posture needs to be subtle, almost imperceptible, but for the skewed or transitory posture a perceptible obvious support system is required.

Oath of the Horatii

Designers design for important poses of behaviour sequences, but designing for postures and relevant behaviour is little difficult, or it is a neglected task. If one provides for some flexibility within the postural pose, it serves two purposes: It accommodates larger number of anthropometric ranges (of percentiles) and allows for postural flexibility. The postural flexibility allows wider range of expressions and wider scope for gestural reinforcements. The postural flexibility relates to minor changes for relaxation, resetting the body rhythms and facility to conduct momentary variations.


A chair that is slightly wider or lower, a bar stool with a foot support ring, a seat with multi flexural (revolving, tilting, rotating) adjustability, TV or monitor swiveling stands are some of the examples that allow flexibility. Office executive chairs allow many postures, due to the width of the seat, height of the seat, height of the handles from the seat, depth of the handles (elbow or arm accommodation), inclination of the back (tilting), height of the back (mid spine, shoulder support, neck and head support), swiveling, etc. Other postural options are provided through combinations of table top height from the ground, and seat level of the chair. The space and its environmental conditions also play their role, like placing a chair close against a wall, against an open space, facing a barrier or an open area, the source of illumination and air handling devices, one sided or multi directional interaction, communication devices being used and duration of work.


People also exploit the seats for varied postural positions such as seating with feet drawn closer to the seat, extending beyond the seat, crossing the legs or feet, feet resting on heels or toes. All these varied positions help to adjust to anthropometric needs, seats related accommodative problems and allow variegated postural positions. Where possible a person would primarily select most appropriate type of seat with reference to the stature of the host or other participants, own social status, own psychological make-up, presence or absence of intervening elements, angle, level and distance of the encounter, level of comfort and formality desired. Next strategy would be for macro or micro shifting of the seat. Where such devices are lightweight mobile, micro shifting for angular and distance adjustments are done, but such choices are usually limited. Other strategies include body or postural accommodation, such as seating by fully drawing back or upright, leaning on, one of the arm resting rather then a balanced posture, keeping arms on armrest, lap or any other front side device, placing the legs under the seat, straight-up, seating frontally but looking sideways.

low stools Image from Flickr by Michael Coghlan