In the latest issue of Psychological Science, there was an article entitled “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance,” by D. R. Carney, A. Cuddy, and A. Yap. The authors posed research participants (who did not know the true purpose of the study) into one of two sets of poses–high-power, which involved stretching out to take up more space, and opening the arms/legs, and low-power, which involved contractive positions with closed limbs. They took various physiological measurements and also had the participants engage in a gambling task. They found the two groups showed physiological and behavioral differences consistent with their positions.
The implication of this work is that we can create at least short-term changes in ourselves simply by changing our physical stance–that we can “embody” our power. The authors conclude that “Over time and in aggregate, these minimal postural changes could improve a person’s general health and well-being. This potential benefit is particularly important when considering people who are or who feel chronically powerless because of lack of resources, low hierarchical rank in an organization, or membership in a low-power social group.”