Hate Manspreading? There's Actually A Science Behind Why Guys Do It

The subway is the favorite place of no one, ever. It’s crowded, hot, and makes you think death is imminent every time the train makes the slightest turn.

For many, though, none of these annoyances hold a candle to manspreading. There’s already barely enough room in the subway car, and it only gets worse when guys insist on spreading their legs, stretching their arms, and basically assuming the Lounging Douche position.

It’s inconsiderate, unnecessary, and an immature way of signaling dominance to a crowd of people who will never, ever be impressed with you. Dude, you’re on the subway. Your only social mission should be “Don’t irritate everyone around me.”

However, according to science, there may be more to manspreading than simply being an obnoxious commuter.

It's the hormones

In what is now the second-most popular TED Talk ever, psychologist Amy Cuddy explains how certain postures can have measurable effects on our hormones, which in turn, affect the way we see ourselves, and the way others see us. It’s groundbreaking info, even if it does validate some of the more annoying people in your life, like your yoga instructor, and that guy who keeps telling you how to stand during a job interview. (Got it, Dad.)

According to Cuddy, the findings of several studies reveal that when our body language is typically “beta,” we have higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and lower levels of testosterone, which gives us confidence. Seems like that would make sense, though, right? If you’re stressed out, you’re not going to present yourself with confidence.

But apparently this process also works in reverse.

"Alpha" power stances make you physiologically less stressed

Researchers learned that if subjects assumed “alpha” body language, with the body exposed, they showed increased levels of testosterone and decreased levels of cortisol in as little as two minutes. That’s why Superman is such a badass. It’s the power stance.

More and more, we’re realizing that the mind-body connection is a powerful force. If you believe something about yourself, physical changes can be the result. No, that doesn’t mean that drunk you really can take on that guy twice your size at the bar, but it does mean that people who stand or sit in a confident pose end up feeling more confident.

Though there hasn’t been a study on this subject just yet, it makes sense that manspreaders are a little desperate to feel confident. That annoying way they sit on the subway? Turns out it isn’t simply to be a jerk—it just makes them feel more manly than they actually are.

Joe Oliveto totally didn't test this theory on himself when writing this article. Follow him on Twitter.

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