A power pose is a non-verbal expression that empowers, improving our self-perception. It is related to ‘opening up’ or making ourselves look bigger. This is part of non-verbal communication and if it is true that 55% of communication is our body language then our posture and position are important to pay attention to.
Amy Cuddy sparked a media frenzy when she presented research about high and low power pose positions and their affect on how we see ourselves. Their research indicated that hormones changed after two minutes of power posing. Increased testosterone and decreased cortisol were observed.
Their study looked at testosterone, cortisol, self-perception and risk aversion following two minutes of ‘power posing’ compared to two minutes of a more closed posture, or low power pose position.
“Here's what we find on testosterone. From their baseline when they come in, high-power people experience about a 20-percent increase, and low-power people experience about a 10-percent decrease. So again, two minutes, and you get these changes. Here's what you get on cortisol. High-power people experience about a 25-percent decrease, and the low-power people experience about a 15-percent increase. So two minutes lead to these hormonal changes that configure your brain to basically be either assertive, confident and comfortable, or really stress-reactive, and feeling sort of shut down. And we've all had the feeling, right? So it seems that our nonverbals do govern how we think and feel about ourselves, so it's not just others, but it's also ourselves. Also, our bodies change our minds.” Amy Cuddy, TED Talk 2010
Our stress hormone, or cortisol, cycles throughout a 24 hour period, dropping at night and increasing during the day. Cortisol is related to waking, alertness and stress response. It has a reverse role to melatonin that helps initiate sleep and drops in the morning waking us up. Caffeine as well as daylight can stimulate rises in cortisol making us more alert. As I have read different articles about cortisol related to my own experiences of fatigue and ability to focus my conclusion thus far is that I understand less about this hormone and its interactions. These problems appear to be multi-factorial, with many influences happening continuously throughout our day and night.
It is because of this complexity that I am less likely to ‘buy into’ the changes in hormones with Amy’s study and what the results mean. I do feel that our posture does change our perception as well as mood. We have all experienced this. Lets look at what we know about power poses and share two of my favorites.
Controversy on Amy Cuddy’s Research
A research team attempted to reproduce the results of Amy Cuddy’s and her colleague’s research without success. You can check out the abstract on their study findings.
Her co-researcher, Dana Carney, has since reversed her position on their initial study in 2010. My Position on Power Poses
There have been further meta-analysis studies and reviews of the literature looking at body language and its effect on our mood and neuroendocrinology. A recent article in Forbes suggests that power posing is something that is still worth doing.
What we know about power poses
- Power posing or changing posture can improve your emotional state.
- There is evidence that it might change your hormone levels. Although, what does this mean in a given situation and how much does a hormone affect how we act? No one has an answer for this question.
- These poses are good for your posture as they get you out of your current position.
- Don’t read too much into power poses as more than a temporary boost in how we feel.
- Body language is important in communication and therefore important to learn and pay attention to. This is by far more important to interpersonal interactions than doing a pose prior to stepping into a meeting or job interview.
A power pose positively improves your mood
We are made to move – so change your posture
Changing your posture is a good thing to regularly do. We were designed to move!
Power Pose Challenge