Imagine a powerful, confident person. What do you notice about their body language? Chances are, they stand up straight, hold their head high, and aren’t afraid to take up space.
According to Amy Cuddy, whose TED talk on the subject of power and body language has been viewed more than 27 million times, the physiological makeup of powerful people leads them to express their dominance and assertiveness through body language. However, Cuddy’s research has revealed that it also works the other way: by taking on a dominant, assertive physical stance, hormonal changes in the body actually cause us to feel more powerful. In other words, you can “fake it ‘til you make it.”
For example, Cuddy had several test subjects adopt either high-power (hands on hips, legs spread apart, head high) or low-power (hunched over, legs crossed, hands touching face or neck) poses for two minutes. The study found that testosterone, the hormone responsible for feelings of dominance, increased by 20 percent in the people who had adopted a high-power pose, and decreased by 10 percent in the people who had adopted a low-power pose. On the other hand, cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, had decreased by 25 percent for the high-power people, but increased by 15 percent for the low-power people.
So if you’re feeling stressed or insecure, or just want to nail that speech or job interview, let your body shape your mind: try a power pose!
Watch the TED talk here: