The Power of Posture

Image is of Professor Amy Cuddy delivering her Ted lecture.


According to research by Professor Amy Cuddy the key to success in life maybe in how you stand.

Cuddy, a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School, studies nonverbal behaviour. She has extensively researcher the impact posture has on our confidence, chemical and hormonal levels and our perceived and actual power.

Humans and other animals express power through open, expansive postures, and they express powerlessness through closed, contractive postures. But can these postures actually cause power?

In her study Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance Cuddy and colleagues from Columbia University and Harvard found that certain poses increased sense of power and risk tolerance in individuals.

“That a person can, by assuming two simple 1-min poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful has real-world, actionable implications,” the study reported.

Posing in high-power nonverbal displays (as opposed to low-power nonverbal displays) would cause neuroendocrine and behavioural changes for both male and female participants: High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern

What are the poses?

higher power pose

 The Higher Power Pose.

Higher power poses are open, expansive and confident. Think a peacock fanning his feathers to attract a mate, or a gorilla puffing out his chest, or your boss spreading his arms wide on the desk and towering over you as you squirm in the chair in front of him.


low power poses

 The Low Power Pose

The lower power pose is defensive, small, crumbled. Think a hedgehog rolling up into a ball, or a deer caught in headlights, or  you squirming in the chair in front of your boss.



How can my posture make me powerful?

Unlike Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) which is about manipulating people around you, the only manipulation happening with power posing is a self-manipulation. You are increasing your own testosterone levels, lowering your cortisol levels and improving your own sense of power and wellbeing. Whilst this may help you succeed, or help you dominant a situation it is not by weakening others.

What has testosterone and cortisol got to do with it?

In people and in animals the level of testosterone reflect and reinforce the status and dominance of individuals. The person with the highest level of testosterone is the alpha, the top dog, the big cheese, or the big wig. Surges in testosterone happen in anticipation of competition or after a win. But if we suffer a defeat testosterone levels drop significantly.

Cortisol is a stress hormone. People who possess lower Cortisol levels tend to be more powerful. Cortisol levels drop as power is achieved, but equally decreased cortisol is a sign of better risk tolerance and ability to cope with stress. People who have high levels of Cortisol are often low power people. They often suffer from negative health consequences, such as impaired immune systems. hypertension and memory loss.

If you can raise your testosterone levels and lower your cortisol levels you are onto a winner. Amy Cuddy says it is possible to do this posture.

The Ted Lecture-

In her brilliant and entertaining Ted lecture Amy Cuddy explains how to become more powerful through posture. If you want to find out how you can increase your power, wealth and wellbeing by just standing in the correct position for a few minutes then click here.