When you picture Superman, how is he standing? If he’s not flying through the sky, is he hunched over, arms crossed and taking up as little space as possible? No! He’s Superman! We bet you pictured him with his legs apart, fists on his hips, or one on his hip and the other shot straight up in the air. That’s because he’s powerful and he knows it. But you can take a leaf out of Clark Kent’s book and harness that same power, just by changing your body positioning. Studies have shown that taking up a ‘power pose’ even for just 2 minutes can have a measurable impact on how powerful you feel, and how confident you are in taking on risk.
In 2010, Dana R Carney 1, Amy J C Cuddy and Andy J Yap conducted a study in body positioning and its impact on testosterone (to represent power), cortisol (to represent stress) and how risk averse someone was. In the study, they had participants assume two separate poses for 1 minute, and then measured the reactions. The participants were randomly assigned either high-power or low-power positions. High power positions had them relaxing on a chair, back with their hands behind their heads elbows up, and feet resting on a desk, or standing with their legs apart, arms on a desk and leaning forward; either way, taking up a high amount of space. Low-power participants were either seated straight up, legs at 90 degrees, elbows in and hands clasped, or standing with their legs close together, arms wrapped around their bodies and taking up a small amount of space.
In both female and male participants, the researchers determined that for the high-power posers, there was a measurable increase in testosterone, feeling of power, and tolerance for risk, and simultaneously a decrease in cortisol levels. The low-power posers experienced the opposite results, and the researchers concluded that assuming a physical position of power such as the ones tested, even for just 2 minutes, can have an impact on physiological and behavioral factors.
So, before you enter your next interview, presentation, or nerve-wracking situation, pretend you’re Superman for a couple of minutes. Find a private, quiet spot (especially if you don’t want to share this secret with others), put your hands on your hips, plant your feet wide apart, puff your chest out and draw out the power that’s ready to burst out of you!