Good posture is frequently underestimated. On top of multiple benefits the proper alignment has on the physiology of our body and prevention of various musculoskeletal dysfunctions and pain, it has a significant influence on the way we perform in social situations.

In high stress circumstances, many people tend to shrink their body, adopting nonverbal postures that can cause them to feel and act even more powerless. In both human and non-human primates, spacious, open postures reflect higher power, whereas closed postures reflect the opposite, weakness and vulnerability.

Interesting fact is that these postures not only reflect power, but they are actually capable of producing it.

High power poses increases:

  • Feelings of power and dominance
  • Risk-taking behavior, action orientation
  • Thought abstraction
  • Pain tolerance
  • Testosterone (the dominance hormone)
  • Improves presentation quality (enthusiasm, confidence and captivating quality)
  • Boosts speech quality (appearance of intelligent, clear, and well-structured content)
  • Causes individuals to feel more positive, in control and optimistic about the future
  • Causes people to become more goal-oriented and likely to take action.

High power pose reduces:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Cortisol (the stress hormone)
  • Sets people free from the psychological limitations that could prevent them from performing to their full potential

Therefore, deliberate assumption of a high-power pose is a subtle way of making us feel more powerful, including those of us who  chronically feel powerless due to lack of resources or hierarchical status.

Harvard University performed a *study where they had a group of students stretch out and occupy more space, rather than slouch and shrink which is the usual way people behave in highly stressful situations for 7 minutes. The results were as predicted, the high-power posers projected more confidence, and presented more captivating and enthusiastic speeches and in turn achieved overall better results.

*In this study, participants were randomly assigned to adopt either two (one standing, then one sitting) high-power (i.e., expansive and open) or two low-power (i.e., contractive and closed) postures for one minute each. While in the poses, participants engaged in an impression formation task, wherein they watched a slideshow of pictures on the computer and were asked to form opinions about the people in the pictures.  After completing the power manipulation, participants were asked to prepare for a mocked interview for their dream job.  They had to perform a five-minute speech detailing their strengths, qualifications, and why they should be chosen for the job to two ―experienced evaluators. Participants had to maintain the second high- or low-power pose during their five-minute preparation phase.

Assuming high power pose (expansive and open) for only 7 minutes proved to be sufficient to produce a feeling of power as well as their results (in this case, their hireability (chance to get a desired job) were significantly better, in comparison with those who assumed a low power (closed) pose.

Therefore, it is our choice, whether we want to put some effort into improving our posture or will continue to underperform and risk various other side effects of the poor posture.

To get a thorough examination of your posture and learn what you can do to improve it, have a licenced clinician examine you.


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