(CNN) — Open, expansive postures reflect and signal power (picture Wonder Woman). They are expressed by individuals who already feel powerful.
Powerless people do the opposite — contracting, hunching, and making themselves smaller.
When it comes to power, the mind shapes the body, a finding supported by extensive peer-reviewed science. This, to most of us, is not so surprising.
TED: Body language shapes who you are
But what is surprising, when it comes to power, is that the body also shapes the mind. Dana Carney (UC-Berkeley) and I, both experimental social psychologists, have conducted research showing that adopting these postures — “power posing” — actually causes people to become more powerful: After sitting or standing, alone in a room, in a high-power pose for just two minutes, participants in our experiments resembled powerful people — emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally, and even physiologically.
They felt more powerful, were more willing to take risks, presented their ideas with greater confidence and enthusiasm, performed better in demanding situations, and experienced significant increases in testosterone — a hormone linked to assertiveness — and significant decreases in cortisol — a hormone linked to stress. In other words — two minutes of preparatory power posing optimizes the brain to function well in high-stakes challenges.