Can power posing help us?

Can power posing help us?

June 28, 2020 0 By Rick

Madonna urged us to “strike a pose” in her popular song “Vogue” from 1990, and Wonder Woman stood before us looking invincible. “Body language is not just about expressing feelings, it can also shape how a person feels,” according to Robert Körner from the Institute of Psychology at MLU. “Power posing is the nonverbal expression of power. It involves making very bold gestures and changes in body posture,” says Körner. Power posing has been popular off and on since 2012 when more than 46 million people viewed Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on power posing. Cuddy encouraged public speakers and job seekers to adopt powerful body postures to increase their feelings of confidence and power. Other social psychologists have criticized Cuddy’s research, labeling it pseudoscience and psychobabble. But Cuddy has fought back with a rebuttal suggesting power posing is still a legit method to make yourself feel more powerful. So, who is right? Let’s take a look at the new findings.

Cuddy’s findings
Cuddy’s findings suggested that our posture (read: body language) impacts how we think and feel about ourselves. If we assume a powerful posture, we will feel powerful, according to Cuddy. Her Harvard University study involved participants sitting in either a “high-power pose (expansive posture) or low-power pose (leaning inward, legs crossed) for two minutes.” Those who adopted a high-power pose felt more powerful and performed better in mock interviews than those who adopted the low-power pose. Cuddy also claimed that the high-power pose increased testosterone and decreased cortisol in participants. 

But when a new study failed to confirm her findings, critics claimed that Cuddy and her team may have manipulated their data or just been lucky. Her critics were especially suspicious of her claim that power posing altered hormones. Cuddy recently published a new academic paper containing more evidence gleaned from analyzing more than 55 studies demonstrates that what she now refers to as “postural feedback” (formerly known as power posing) does, in fact, make people feel more powerful. The new study, however, was unable to confirm that power posing altered hormones. 

More research needed
At any rate, Cuddy and her colleagues say that “there is a need for experimental tests of incremental or longitudinal effects of adopting expansive postures overtime on various outcomes,” adding that “Right now, we are not aware of any such research.” Although there are many unanswered questions regarding power posing or postural feedback, you’ve got nothing to lose by giving it a try. So, the next time you have a big meeting, a date or a job interview, take a couple of minutes to strike a power pose. What have you got to lose? 

Can power posing help children?
The short answer seems to be yes. A new study found that power posing increases a child’s self-esteem and confidence. We all want our children to feel loved, optimistic, proud and confident. Yet, it’s possible that parents and teachers have missed a way to increase self-esteem – the posture of children, according to a recent study by Robert Körner published in the journal School Psychology International. “Children from the age of five are able to recognize and interpret the body posture of others. Power posing is the nonverbal expression of power. It involves making very bold gestures and changes in body posture. Here, power posing had the strongest effect on the children’s self-esteem,” Körner says. “Teachers could try and see whether this method helps their students.”

Two popular poses
The most popular pose is the superhero pose, which involves standing like a superhero: chin up, chest out, hands-on-hips and legs spread about hip-length apart. Advocates say this is best performed when preparing to take a test, before a big interview or anytime you feel unsure about yourself. Another popular posture is the v-pose,where you plant your feet widely apart and stretch your arms overhead in a ‘V’ shape. This is the best pose for expanding your chest and lungs and breathing deeply. It certainly can’t hurt to give this a try. You never know what can happen. And if nothing does, then you’ve only wasted a couple of minutes.