Reshaping the Way the World Sees You (and How You Act in It)
In the video above, noted researcher Amy Cuddy explains that how we use our bodies (both unconsciously and consciously) can have a dramatic effect not only on how other perceive us but how we see and express ourselves.
Awkwardness is Our Armor
As an introvert, it’s easy to feel awkward. We don’t know how to use our hands when speaking to a crowd, where to hold our arms when silently waiting for the bus, how our “Resting Bitch Face” makes the whole world think we’re grumpy.
If you’ve ever been super-self-conscious about how you come off to the world, this video can be truly eye-opening. Cuddy’s research shows–without a doubt–that our posture can not only shape how people see us but how our bodies physically (and physiologically) react.
She goes on to cite studies that use “likeability” to determine whether participants suspect a specific doctor will be sued or not. In short, the study found that people’s assumptions about the doctor’s fate were overwhelmingly shaped by whether the doctor’s posture, facial expressions, and overall body language caused the participant to view them as “nice.”
All of this should come as no surprise to introverts like us. Our poor posture or awkward gesture or unexpressive features have been causing problems for us with other people all our lives. However, the most surprising thing I pulled from it is that our body language can actually change who we become!
Cuddy, who studied “powerful people” and “non-powerful people” in various interactions and through various methods actually found surprising physiological links between automatic bodily responses and posture!
The Power of The Power Pose
Specifically, this research found that people who were perceived as powerful, who portrayed themselves as powerful, or those who innately believed themselves to be powerful had higher levels of testosterone (a performance-enhancing hormone linked to stamina, endurance, thought clarity) and lower levels of cortisol (the so-called stress hormone linked to all sorts of bad stuff including belly fat retention).
Shockingly, scientific research shows that role changes can also have these measurable effects. This can include stepping into a leadership role, taking on new responsibilities, or simply standing in what Cuddy calls a “high-power pose.” (Think Wonder Woman/Superman hands-on-hips stuff!)
The Real Science Behind Power Poses
Before you dismiss this as New Age mumbo jumbo or the same old mind over matter stuff you’ve read about for years, take a look at the numbers.
Hormonal Changes Brought On by Two-Minute Poses
Cuddy’s team found that by simply having participants pose in either high-power poses or low-power poses they could dramatically alter hormone levels.
For example, those who adopted high-power poses saw an incredible 20% increase in Testosterone levels. Conversely, those who adopted slouched, closed off low-power poses saw their testosterone decrease by 10%.
Stress-inducing cortisol also reacted dramatically. High-power posers saw a 20% decrease in cortisol levels while low-power posers had an average stress hormone increase of 10%.
Keep in mind, these dramatic results were created by simply having the participant stand (or sit) in a prescribed pose for just two minutes!
But what does this really mean? Well, Cuddy and her team used risk aversion a measure of how much those hormonal changes actually affected participants using risk aversion measurements. When given the opportunity to gamble, 86% of power-posing, testosterone-enjoying participants put money on the line. That’s compared to just 26% of low-power posers.
Simply changing the way you hold your body when you’re out and about in the world, dealing with a boss at work, speaking to strangers at a gathering, or conversing with a loved can actually change:
- How you’re perceived
- How you feel about yourself
- How you approach various situations