Becoming Wonder Woman: The Science of Power Posing

Body language is so natural that most of us never think about it. However, did you know that a simple change in body language can reduce stress and increase confidence?

In 2012, social psychologist Amy Cuddy gave a TED Talk called “Your body language shapes who you are.” In this talk, Cuddy discusses “non-verbal expressions of power and dominance.” In the animal kingdom, animals stretch out their bodies and take up as much space as possible in order to demonstrate their power among a group. Cuddy tells us that humans naturally act the same way when they feel powerful. People who feel powerless have entirely different body language. They will shrink into a small space, and hunch over.

In her research at Harvard, Cuddy observed that women tend to exhibit “powerless” body language. This type of body language also leads to less participation in activities.

There are scientific studies on the effects of power poses/superhero poses/Wonder Woman poses. Cuddy discusses the concept of “faking it ‘til you become it.” Body language is often a reaction to stress. She explains that using “powerful” body language before a stressful event such as an exam or an interview can have a positive result. The “Wonder Woman” is one of several easy poses. Place your hands on your hips, and then lift your chest and chin up. Cuddy encourages women to practice their power poses for two minutes before a stressful event in order to experience a physical “confidence boost.”

You can watch Amy Cuddy’s full TED Talk here.

There are times when motivation and confidence are hard to come by. At moments when you need to present a confident version of yourself, power posing can become your solution. Practice in an empty hallway, a bathroom stall, or anywhere that you can be alone with your thoughts. Pose like you mean it. Whether you need the confidence to give a presentation, remain calm in an interview, complete an exam, or speak up in a discussion, a simple change in body language can help. It’s in the science!

Remember that you are powerful, and that you can be strong and confident. You don't need to dress like a superhero to feel like one.