Power Posing: Using Your Body to Improve Confidence and Reduce Stress

power posing

When we think of our body posture and facial expressions, we typically consider them to just be a display of what we’re feeling on the side.

However, the truth is more complicated. Our body language doesn’t just communicate our thoughts and feelings to others, it also communicates our thoughts and feelings to ourselves.

One of the most popular examples of this is a study that showed participants who unconsciously mimicked a smile rated a video clip to be funnier than participants who mimicked a sad face.

And in another similar study, researchers found that individuals who unconsciously mimicked a smile were also able to better process “pleasant” sentences rather than “unpleasant” ones.

These studies show that our minds don’t just influence our bodies, but our bodies also influence our minds.

In psychology this is known as embodied cognition – the idea is we don’t just think with our brains, we actually think with our entire bodies. Psychologists are now using this knowledge to come up with techniques to help improve mental states by mimicking certain body postures and facial expressions.

One recent technique designed to improve confidence and reduce stress is called “power posing.”

Power posing

“Power posing” is an exercise where individuals mimic very confident and dominant postures to temporarily boost their biology and psychology.

According to a study by social psychologist Amy Cuddy, just 2 minutes of “high power posing” can make a big difference in how people feel and how they are socially evaluated by others.

For example, individuals who were instructed to do “high power posing” before a job interview were more likely to be hired than individuals who were instructed to do “low power posing.”

This is because changing our body posture can also lead to changes in our biology and hormone levels, which then influence our actions and our overall “presence” in how we interact with others.

At a biological level, 2 minutes of “high power posing” was shown to increase testosterone (associated with “confidence”) and decrease cortisol (associated with “stress”). But “low power posing” had the opposite effect.

Here are examples of the poses that individuals were told to practice:

power posing

Power posing is super easy to do. You can practice it every morning right after you get out of bed, or in the shower, or in the bathroom right before a big interview or date. It only takes 2 minutes, but it can make a significant difference in your attitude.

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