Increase Your Performance by Changing Your Posture

Did you know you can improve your performance just by changing your body language? If you modify your body language by changing your facial expression or adjusting your pose, you can alter your body’s physiology and that can affect how you feel and how well you perform. Here’s the clincher: you can make yourself feel a certain way without having to pretend to feel that way. I thought it was a pretty good lesson to teach our children because it will give them a tool for managing how they feel in a given situation.

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are…

I have read this before and I have used it with success on Aristotle, so it was with great interest that I watched Amy Cuddy explaining the effect of power poses on TEDTalks:

Just by changing our posture for 2 minutes and adopting a “power pose” – standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident – we can change our body chemistry, how we feel, and possibly improve our chances for success.

The high-power posers showed a nearly 20 percent increase in testosterone (the dominance hormone) and a 25 percent decrease in cortisol (the stress hormone). The low-power posers saw a 10 percent decline in testosterone and a 17 percent increase in cortisol.

Cuddy says, “These two-minute changes (in body stance) lead to hormonal changes that can configure your brain to be either assertive, confident and comfortable, or really stress reactive and feeling shut down.” – Huffington Post

Power posing is linked to:

  • better performance
  • greater confidence
  • reduced stress
  • more assertive behavior

What are Power Poses?

These are the examples of high power poses versus low power poses:

power-poses

You can help your child learn teach your child the poses to adopt that will help with confidence and which poses to avoid because they decrease confidence.

Sounds wonderful, but wait, there’s more…

The Dark Side of Power Posing

While investigating to see if there were peer-reviewed studies on the effects of power posing, I found some reports on the negative side of power posing…

People who assume high-power poses were more likely to steal money, cheat on a test and commit traffic violations in a driving simulation. – Scientific American

Source: Drs. Cuddy, Carney, Yap et al. from Psychological Science, Harvard Business School (2013)

And:

In an earlier research paper investigating whether power posing might make people more confident in their own thoughts—even if those thoughts were negative, it was found that power posing increased self-confidence, but only among participants who already had positive self-thoughts. In contrast, power posing had exactly the opposite effect on people who had negative self-thoughts. It actually decreased their self-confidence as potential professionals. In other words, power posing backfired among half the participants. – Scientific American

Source: Pablo Briñol, Richard Petty and Ben Wagner from European Journal of Social Psychology (2009)

Hmmm, so maybe a little more understanding on how power posing works best might be in order before we run away with this idea. At the end of the day, it looks like going back to basics and working on “choosing your attitude” is still the way to go.

Update: 

A larger study on Power Posing by Ranehill et al (APS, 2015) concluded that there was “no significant effect of power posing on hormonal levels or in any of the three behavioral tasks”. However, when the subjects were asked to report how they felt, those that held the high-power pose reported higher feelings of power and this was statistically significant.

The question it begs now is this – does it matter if there are no physiological effects to power posing? The placebo effect has demonstrated that the mind can be a powerful tool for controlling the body’s response. Can we assume that as long as the mind believes, power posing may be a sufficient tactic to work with for building confidence? Definitely a thought worth considering…

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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