Pose Like Superman/Wonder Woman to Feel Like One
Ever felt like you wanted to throw up right before that important presentation? Have you ever wondered how it would be to get through a pitch without sweating palms and armpits? Trick your career lion brain into ease with power posing. Power posing can be defined as adopting expansive, open, and high-power poses to improve subsequent performances. Research by Cuddy, Wilmuth, and Carney from Harvard and Berkeley has focused on the physiological effects of power posing. Their evidence indicates that a few minutes of power posing generates in an increase of one’s overall performance. The effects are especially in the speech and presentation quality after such a pose.
The following video features a 30 second description of power posing by Amy Cuddy, co-author of the research I just referred too. She is a social psychologist and professor at Harvard. Her extensive research shows the effects of power posing on people’s feelings, behaviours, and hormone levels.
Cuddy thus mentions that power posing causes a change in testosterone and cortisol levels as well as behavioural changes observed in numerous researches. So, what does this do to your brain? Testosterone is a sex hormone, which men naturally tend to have much more of than women. Increased testosterone levels are said to have a quite a number of benefits. These include improved social interactions, levels of energy, reaction time, and pain thresholds. Cortisol is generally referred to as the “stress” hormone, meaning that low levels (please be sure not to go overboard here, as the side of effects of chronically low cortisol levels are also quite scary) will help you relax.
Depending on whether you are a man or a woman, you will be able to take the “Superman” or “Wonder Woman” pose. Just stand up straight, chest out, spread your feet, and put your hands hips for two minutes to experience the benefits. From what I have understood, the benefits should be noticeable in your following activities.
In the academic world, quite some debate on the effects of power poses has taken place among experts. Carney herself, one of the contributors to the research paper on power posing, has even made statements distancing from the research criticising the data the conclusions were based on. Cuddy still stands by the research, claiming that it is not just about the time spend power posing, but one’s physical presentation that would improve by doing these exercises.
Of course, I have tried out power posing on multiple occasions. I tend to become a nervous wreck right before every dancing competition or major test. As far as I am concerned, there’s no harm in trying. Do I believe power posing works? You know what, I do! Besides the scientific evidence and discussions, I think I am an even bigger sucker for the placebo effect. And there’s nothing wrong with a little placebo if it’s beneficial for our performance. My new power posing conviction has already calmed down my nerves quite a few times.
Last week, I had my first dancing competition of the season. New choreography, numerous holidays, a few kilos added, and a fierce competition... I was not ready to dance anybody’s socks off. Having seen Cuddy’s TED-talk, power posing seemed like a great way to wait side stage. Usually, the nerves grow once I am surrounded by competition and the closer I get to my round. However, power posing I actually felt more confident. Also, my performance indeed was much better than I imagined. Placebo or not, I will be power posing for as long as it enhances my performances!
So, what are your thoughts on power poses? Will you be power posing in your pursuit of happiness? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.