The idea of the “Superman Stance”, of standing or sitting in a “power-pose”, has gained traction over the last few years. But is this common belief backed up by any evidence?
There is a body of evidence that points not only to “power-poses” working, but may explain why they do as well. In one experiment
- Some participants were asked to stand in the classic “Superman stance” – feet apart, chest lifted, hands on hips, and head held high
- Other participants were asked to sit in a similar “power-pose” – legs spread, chest lifted, hands spread on desk, and head held high
Both of these groups maintained that pose for two minutes, and were assessed against other groups who were asked to stand or sit in much more submissive and constricted poses.
The first measure was the simplest –participants were asked how powerful they felt. Those who displayed “power-poses” consistently reported themselves as feeling more powerful than those who didn’t. The second test was an exercise to gauge appetite for risk, and once again those who had held “power-poses” showed a marked increase in their level of risk taking.
It was the third and fourth tests, that both measured physical reactions in the participants’ bodies that provided the strongest evidence for the effect of the “power-pose”. The first of these was a test for testosterone, levels of which are positively linked with dominance and power. Those who had adopted “power-poses” had an 8% increase in their testosterone after only two minutes.
The final test was for cortisol, the “stress hormone”, which increases with feelings of stress and powerlessness. Those who had adopted “power-poses” had a 25% decrease in their cortisol after the two minutes had been completed.
The hormone test results paint a compelling picture of the link between our bodily positions and our feelings and behaviour. Our bodies influence our minds, and simple postures can convey feelings of physical power as well as mental strength. We actually come to feel more emotionally powerful through the way our bodies feel physically.
So next time you need to galvanise your self-confidence before or during a meeting adopt the “Superman stance” for two minutes and feel it start to rise again.
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