Have you ever done a power pose?
In her 2012 TED Talk, social psychologist and Harvard associate professor Amy Cuddy explained that “power posing”—for example, standing like Wonder Woman—not only makes you appear confident, but actually changes your brain chemistry to make you more courageous.
The New York Times recently wrote about the amazing impact of her work:
Women in particular often shrink in public settings, [Cuddy] said. The men in her Harvard classes shoot their arms straight up to answer questions, while the women tend toward a bent-elbow wave. Along with touching the face or neck or crossing the ankles tightly while sitting, “these postures are associated with powerlessness and intimidation and keep people back from expressing who they really are,” Ms. Cuddy said…
A paper that she wrote in 2010 with the researchers Dana R. Carney and Andy J. Yap found that lab participants who spent two minutes in a room alone doing high-power poses (feet on the desk with fingers laced behind the head, let’s say) increased testosterone levels by about 20 percent and lowered the stress hormone cortisol by about 25 percent…
To scroll through the email Ms. Cuddy has received since TED…is to understand how much impact a simple idea, well delivered, can make: Nervous test-takers say they’re now getting A’s; coaches have turned Bad News Bears teams into champions…
Caroline has done this for years: “Before a job interview or important phone call, I’ll go somewhere inconspicuous, like the bathroom, and hold my arms over my head,” she says, “I feel a little funny doing it, but it works for me. I immediately feel confident.”
After hearing Cuddy’s research, actress Allison Williams does reverse power posing when playing Marnie on Girls: “Marnie generally has her shoulders forward, inched slightly up, and her arms folded as a line of defense,” she says.
Even small tweaks to body language—like leaning forward and putting your arms on the table during a meeting, versus touching your neck and crossing your legs—can make a huge difference.
Fascinating, right? Do you do power poses, either in big or small ways?