128 Position with Power

Based on research by Carney, et al 2010, written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.

Have you ever wanted to feel more powerful or confident?  Maybe you were about to give a presentation or ask your boss for a raise. People understand body movement and posture as important expressions providing signals to others. However, aside from giving off powerful signals, will they actually help us feel powerful?

Psychologist Dana Carney and colleagues evaluated whether certain postures can actually cause power. People rate open posture and large gestures as showing dominance and power, while rating closed, constricted posture as powerlessness. Participants either posed in a high-power position, including open arms and a wide stance, or posed in a low-power position such as crossed arms and a slumped posture. The participants’ risk taking, feelings of power, and hormone levels were measured before and after posing.  Results reveal high-power poses cause adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes including an increased level of testosterone, feelings of power and a higher tolerance for risk.  These participants also exhibited a decrease in cortisol, a stress hormone.

Next time you need a boost of confidence; open your arms, straighten your posture, and hold your head up high!  Not only will you appear powerful, you will quickly begin to feel powerful!


Carney, D. R., Cuddy, A. J., & Yap, A. J. (2010). Power posing brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Psychological Science, 21(10), 1363-1368.

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