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Article #04
Power dynamics
In 2012, a Ted-talk by Harvard social psychologist, Amy Cuddy titled, “Your body language shapes who you are” catapulted her career to new heights.

People all over the world have accepted and implemented her scientific findings, which are often described as a ‘life hack for success’, into their own lives. Power posing is the idea that standing in a posture of confidence for as little as two minutes, can have a sufficient affect on the testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain for you to feel, and therefore become, powerful.

"We might be able to change our minds, through what I call power dynamics" - Amy Cuddy

Our posture and body language says a lot about who we are. There’s a big difference between standing tall and a hunched back. Some may even go as far as saying that our posture is a physical manifestation of our inner state of beings, maybe even without us knowing it. Fortunately, if we do notice and work on our posture, there is not only a major health benefit, but — if we were to believe Amy Cuddy — we might also be able to change our minds, through what she calls power dynamics.

We’ve seen it in the animal kingdom — verbal and non-verbal expression of power dominance. Where the animals are without words, they open up and make themselves big to show power. And if they feel powerless and scared, they close up and make themselves smaller. It’s the same with humans.

"Our minds change our bodies, is it also true that our bodies change our minds?" - Amy Cuddy

Cuddy’s answer to this question is why her TED-talk is the second most viewed talk of all time with 39,5 million views, and counting. The conclusion of her simple experiment, and answer to the question, is that you “can significantly change the way your life unfolds” by standing in a position of power for just two minutes. So to answer in simpler terms — yes.

The experiment/study: Saliva samples were taken from all test subjects before the experiment began. The subjects then either stood in what were classed as either low or high power poses for two minutes, after which time they were asked if they’d like to gamble. They then either did or did not gamble. Afterward, saliva samples were taken once again from all of the subjects.

The results are pretty interesting:

  • RISK TOLERANCE (the willingness to take risks)
  • 86% for the high power posers
  • 60% for the low power posers
  • TESTOSTERON (the macho confidence hormone)
  • Increased by 20% for the high power posers
  • Decreased by 10% for the low power posers
  • CORTISOL (the stress hormone)
  • 25% decrease for the high power posers
  • 15% increase in the low power posers

Many people in the science community were fascinated, and the number of people in bathrooms secretly channeling their inner–Hercules pose steadily increased. On the other hand, some thought it was too good to be true. There were several replications of the study, with varying results. Many considered the power pose to be a scientific overreach. Eventually Dana Carney, co-author of the original study, stated that the original study had ‘fatal methodological shortcomings’ as a result of statistical shortcuts taken by the research team, and those who previously ignored the skeptics now started paying attention.

In her defense, Amy Cuddy admits that she “is agnostic about the (biological) effects of expansive posture on hormones.”, however she still insists the psychological effects of power posing are absolute.

Is it really possible, as Cuddy encourages in her talk, for a person to fake it ’til they not only make it, but until they become it?

So what are you waiting for, human?

The next time you feel a bit small or in need of power: Open up! Sit up straight! Stand up tall! There’s no guarantee you’ll be as powerful as a lion, but it’s certain that a good posture will make you look and feel better — not only in the heat of the moment, but for a lifetime. Not too bad that either.

Foto cred:

  • Photography: Fred Jonny / Anti Brandpeople
  • Stylist: Elise Sandvik
  • Model: Marion Celine / Team Models
  • Hair & Make-up: Marthe Hesvik / Style Management
  • Photo Assistant: Yoo Sun
  • Styling Assistant: Dina Hansen
  • Retouching: Ego Studios
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