Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapeswho you are
0:11 So I want to start by offering youa free no-tech life hack, and all it requires of you is this: that you changeyour posture for two minutes. But before I give it away, I want to ask you toright now do a little audit of your body and what you're doing with your body. Sohow many of you are sort of making yourselves smaller? Maybe you're hunching,crossing your legs, maybe wrapping your ankles. Sometimes we hold onto our armslike this. Sometimes we spread out. (Laughter) I see you. (Laughter) So I wantyou to pay attention to what you're doing right now. We're going to come backto that in a few minutes, and I'm hoping that if you learn to tweak this alittle bit, it could significantly change the way your life unfolds.
0:58 So, we're really fascinated withbody language, and we're particularly interested in other people's bodylanguage. You know, we're interested in, like, you know — (Laughter) — anawkward interaction, or a smile, or a contemptuous glance, or maybe a veryawkward wink, or maybe even something like a handshake.
1:22 Narrator: Here they are arriving atNumber 10, and look at this lucky policeman gets to shake hands with thePresident of the United States. Oh, and here comes the Prime Minister of the —? No. (Laughter) (Applause) (Laughter) (Applause)
1:37 Amy Cuddy: So a handshake, or thelack of a handshake, can have us talking for weeks and weeks and weeks. Eventhe BBC and The New York Times. So obviously when we think about nonverbalbehavior, or body language -- but we call it nonverbals as social scientists --it's language, so we think about communication. When we think aboutcommunication, we think about interactions. So what is your body languagecommunicating to me? What's mine communicating to you?
2:04 And there's a lot of reason tobelieve that this is a valid way to look at this. So social scientists havespent a lot of time looking at the effects of our body language, or otherpeople's body language, on judgments. And we make sweeping judgments andinferences from body language. And those judgments can predict reallymeaningful life outcomes like who we hire or promote, who we ask out on a date.For example, Nalini Ambady, a researcher at Tufts University, shows that whenpeople watch 30-second soundless clips of real physician-patient interactions,their judgments of the physician's niceness predict whether or not thatphysician will be sued. So it doesn't have to do so much with whether or notthat physician was incompetent, but do we like that person and how they interacted?Even more dramatic, Alex Todorov at Princeton has shown us that judgments ofpolitical candidates' faces in just one second predict 70 percent of U.S.Senate and gubernatorial race outcomes, and even, let's go digital, emoticonsused well in online negotiations can lead to you claim more value from thatnegotiation. If you use them poorly, bad idea. Right? So when we think ofnonverbals, we think of how we judge others, how they judge us and what theoutcomes are. We tend to forget, though, the other audience that's influencedby our nonverbals, and that's ourselves.
3:31 We are also influenced by ournonverbals, our thoughts and our feelings and our physiology. So whatnonverbals am I talking about? I'm a social psychologist. I study prejudice,and I teach at a competitive business school, so it was inevitable that I wouldbecome interested in power dynamics. I became especially interested innonverbal expressions of power and dominance.
3:56 And what are nonverbal expressionsof power and dominance? Well, this is what they are. So in the animal kingdom,they are about expanding. So you make yourself big, you stretch out, you takeup space, you're basically opening up. It's about opening up. And this is trueacross the animal kingdom. It's not just limited to primates. And humans do thesame thing. (Laughter) So they do this both when they have power sort ofchronically, and also when they're feeling powerful in the moment. And this oneis especially interesting because it really shows us how universal and oldthese expressions of power are. This expression, which is known as pride,Jessica Tracy has studied. She shows that people who are born with sight andpeople who are congenitally blind do this when they win at a physicalcompetition. So when they cross the finish line and they've won, it doesn'tmatter if they've never seen anyone do it. They do this. So the arms up in theV, the chin is slightly lifted. What do we do when we feel powerless? We doexactly the opposite. We close up. We wrap ourselves up. We make ourselvessmall. We don't want to bump into the person next to us. So again, both animalsand humans do the same thing. And this is what happens when you put togetherhigh and low power. So what we tend to do when it comes to power is that wecomplement the other's nonverbals. So if someone is being really powerful withus, we tend to make ourselves smaller. We don't mirror them. We do the oppositeof them.
5:24 So I'm watching this behavior inthe classroom, and what do I notice? I notice that MBA students really exhibitthe full range of power nonverbals. So you have people who are like caricaturesof alphas, really coming into the room, they get right into the middle of theroom before class even starts, like they really want to occupy space. When theysit down, they're sort of spread out. They raise their hands like this. Youhave other people who are virtually collapsing when they come in. As soon theycome in, you see it. You see it on their faces and their bodies, and they sit intheir chair and they make themselves tiny, and they go like this when theyraise their hand. I notice a couple of things about this. One, you're not goingto be surprised. It seems to be related to gender. So women are much morelikely to do this kind of thing than men. Women feel chronically less powerfulthan men, so this is not surprising. But the other thing I noticed is that italso seemed to be related to the extent to which the students wereparticipating, and how well they were participating. And this is reallyimportant in the MBA classroom, because participation counts for half thegrade.
6:33 So business schools have beenstruggling with this gender grade gap. You get these equally qualified womenand men coming in and then you get these differences in grades, and it seems tobe partly attributable to participation. So I started to wonder, you know,okay, so you have these people coming in like this, and they're participating.Is it possible that we could get people to fake it and would it lead them toparticipate more?
6:57 So my main collaborator DanaCarney, who's at Berkeley, and I really wanted to know, can you fake it tillyou make it? Like, can you do this just for a little while and actuallyexperience a behavioral outcome that makes you seem more powerful? So we knowthat our nonverbals govern how other people think and feel about us. There's alot of evidence. But our question really was, do our nonverbals govern how wethink and feel about ourselves?
7:24 There's some evidence that they do.So, for example, we smile when we feel happy, but also, when we're forced tosmile by holding a pen in our teeth like this, it makes us feel happy. So itgoes both ways. When it comes to power, it also goes both ways. So when youfeel powerful, you're more likely to do this, but it's also possible that whenyou pretend to be powerful, you are more likely to actually feel powerful.
7:57 So the second question really was,you know, so we know that our minds change our bodies, but is it also true thatour bodies change our minds? And when I say minds, in the case of the powerful,what am I talking about? So I'm talking about thoughts and feelings and thesort of physiological things that make up our thoughts and feelings, and in mycase, that's hormones. I look at hormones. So what do the minds of the powerfulversus the powerless look like? So powerful people tend to be, notsurprisingly, more assertive and more confident, more optimistic. They actuallyfeel that they're going to win even at games of chance. They also tend to beable to think more abstractly. So there are a lot of differences. They takemore risks. There are a lot of differences between powerful and powerlesspeople. Physiologically, there also are differences on two key hormones:testosterone, which is the dominance hormone, and cortisol, which is the stresshormone. So what we find is that high-power alpha males in primate hierarchieshave high testosterone and low cortisol, and powerful and effective leadersalso have high testosterone and low cortisol. So what does that mean? When youthink about power, people tended to think only about testosterone, because thatwas about dominance. But really, power is also about how you react to stress.So do you want the high-power leader that's dominant, high on testosterone, butreally stress reactive? Probably not, right? You want the person who's powerfuland assertive and dominant, but not very stress reactive, the person who's laidback.
9:37 So we know that in primate hierarchies,if an alpha needs to take over, if an individual needs to take over an alpharole sort of suddenly, within a few days, that individual's testosterone hasgone up significantly and his cortisol has dropped significantly. So we havethis evidence, both that the body can shape the mind, at least at the faciallevel, and also that role changes can shape the mind. So what happens, okay,you take a role change, what happens if you do that at a really minimal level,like this tiny manipulation, this tiny intervention? "For twominutes," you say, "I want you to stand like this, and it's going tomake you feel more powerful."
10:19 So this is what we did. We decidedto bring people into the lab and run a little experiment, and these peopleadopted, for two minutes, either high-power poses or low-power poses, and I'mjust going to show you five of the poses, although they took on only two. Sohere's one. A couple more. This one has been dubbed the "WonderWoman" by the media. Here are a couple more. So you can be standing or youcan be sitting. And here are the low-power poses. So you're folding up, you'remaking yourself small. This one is very low-power. When you're touching yourneck, you're really protecting yourself. So this is what happens. They come in,they spit into a vial, we for two minutes say, "You need to do this orthis." They don't look at pictures of the poses. We don't want to primethem with a concept of power. We want them to be feeling power, right? So twominutes they do this. We then ask them, "How powerful do you feel?"on a series of items, and then we give them an opportunity to gamble, and thenwe take another saliva sample. That's it. That's the whole experiment.
11:28 So this is what we find. Risktolerance, which is the gambling, what we find is that when you're in thehigh-power pose condition, 86 percent of you will gamble. When you're in thelow-power pose condition, only 60 percent, and that's a pretty whoppingsignificant difference. Here's what we find on testosterone. From theirbaseline when they come in, high-power people experience about a 20-percentincrease, and low-power people experience about a 10-percent decrease. Soagain, two minutes, and you get these changes. Here's what you get on cortisol.High-power people experience about a 25-percent decrease, and the low-powerpeople experience about a 15-percent increase. So two minutes lead to thesehormonal changes that configure your brain to basically be either assertive,confident and comfortable, or really stress-reactive, and, you know, feelingsort of shut down. And we've all had the feeling, right? So it seems that ournonverbals do govern how we think and feel about ourselves, so it's not justothers, but it's also ourselves. Also, our bodies change our minds.
12:36 But the next question, of course,is can power posing for a few minutes really change your life in meaningfulways? So this is in the lab. It's this little task, you know, it's just acouple of minutes. Where can you actually apply this? Which we cared about, ofcourse. And so we think it's really, what matters, I mean, where you want touse this is evaluative situations like social threat situations. Where are youbeing evaluated, either by your friends? Like for teenagers it's at the lunchroomtable. It could be, you know, for some people it's speaking at a school boardmeeting. It might be giving a pitch or giving a talk like this or doing a jobinterview. We decided that the one that most people could relate to becausemost people had been through was the job interview.
13:20 So we published these findings,and the media are all over it, and they say, Okay, so this is what you do whenyou go in for the job interview, right? (Laughter) You know, so we were ofcourse horrified, and said, Oh my God, no, no, no, that's not what we meant atall. For numerous reasons, no, no, no, don't do that. Again, this is not aboutyou talking to other people. It's you talking to yourself. What do you dobefore you go into a job interview? You do this. Right? You're sitting down.You're looking at your iPhone -- or your Android, not trying to leave anyoneout. You are, you know, you're looking at your notes, you're hunching up,making yourself small, when really what you should be doing maybe is this, like,in the bathroom, right? Do that. Find two minutes. So that's what we want totest. Okay? So we bring people into a lab, and they do either high- orlow-power poses again, they go through a very stressful job interview. It'sfive minutes long. They are being recorded. They're being judged also, and thejudges are trained to give no nonverbal feedback, so they look like this. Like,imagine this is the person interviewing you. So for five minutes, nothing, andthis is worse than being heckled. People hate this. It's what Marianne LaFrancecalls "standing in social quicksand." So this really spikes yourcortisol. So this is the job interview we put them through, because we reallywanted to see what happened. We then have these coders look at these tapes,four of them. They're blind to the hypothesis. They're blind to the conditions.They have no idea who's been posing in what pose, and they end up looking atthese sets of tapes, and they say, "Oh, we want to hire thesepeople," -- all the high-power posers -- "we don't want to hire thesepeople. We also evaluate these people much more positively overall." Butwhat's driving it? It's not about the content of the speech. It's about thepresence that they're bringing to the speech. We also, because we rate them on allthese variables related to competence, like, how well-structured is the speech?How good is it? What are their qualifications? No effect on those things. Thisis what's affected. These kinds of things. People are bringing their trueselves, basically. They're bringing themselves. They bring their ideas, but asthemselves, with no, you know, residue over them. So this is what's driving theeffect, or mediating the effect.
15:35 So when I tell people about this,that our bodies change our minds and our minds can change our behavior, and ourbehavior can change our outcomes, they say to me, "I don't -- It feelsfake." Right? So I said, fake it till you make it. I don't -- It's not me.I don't want to get there and then still feel like a fraud. I don't want tofeel like an impostor. I don't want to get there only to feel like I'm notsupposed to be here. And that really resonated with me, because I want to tellyou a little story about being an impostor and feeling like I'm not supposed tobe here.
16:06 When I was 19, I was in a reallybad car accident. I was thrown out of a car, rolled several times. I was thrownfrom the car. And I woke up in a head injury rehab ward, and I had beenwithdrawn from college, and I learned that my I.Q. had dropped by two standarddeviations, which was very traumatic. I knew my I.Q. because I had identifiedwith being smart, and I had been called gifted as a child. So I'm taken out ofcollege, I keep trying to go back. They say, "You're not going to finishcollege. Just, you know, there are other things for you to do, but that's notgoing to work out for you." So I really struggled with this, and I have tosay, having your identity taken from you, your core identity, and for me it wasbeing smart, having that taken from you, there's nothing that leaves youfeeling more powerless than that. So I felt entirely powerless. I worked andworked and worked, and I got lucky, and worked, and got lucky, and worked.
17:01 Eventually I graduated fromcollege. It took me four years longer than my peers, and I convinced someone,my angel advisor, Susan Fiske, to take me on, and so I ended up at Princeton,and I was like, I am not supposed to be here. I am an impostor. And the nightbefore my first-year talk, and the first-year talk at Princeton is a 20-minutetalk to 20 people. That's it. I was so afraid of being found out the next daythat I called her and said, "I'm quitting." She was like, "Youare not quitting, because I took a gamble on you, and you're staying. You'regoing to stay, and this is what you're going to do. You are going to fake it.You're going to do every talk that you ever get asked to do. You're just goingto do it and do it and do it, even if you're terrified and just paralyzed andhaving an out-of-body experience, until you have this moment where you say, 'Ohmy gosh, I'm doing it. Like, I have become this. I am actually doingthis.'" So that's what I did. Five years in grad school, a few years, youknow, I'm at Northwestern, I moved to Harvard, I'm at Harvard, I'm not reallythinking about it anymore, but for a long time I had been thinking, "Notsupposed to be here. Not supposed to be here."
18:07 So at the end of my first year atHarvard, a student who had not talked in class the entire semester, who I hadsaid, "Look, you've gotta participate or else you're going to fail,"came into my office. I really didn't know her at all. And she said, she came intotally defeated, and she said, "I'm not supposed to be here." Andthat was the moment for me. Because two things happened. One was that Irealized, oh my gosh, I don't feel like that anymore. You know. I don't feelthat anymore, but she does, and I get that feeling. And the second was, she issupposed to be here! Like, she can fake it, she can become it. So I was like,"Yes, you are! You are supposed to be here! And tomorrow you're going tofake it, you're going to make yourself powerful, and, you know, you're gonna —" (Applause) (Applause) "And you're going to go into the classroom,and you are going to give the best comment ever." You know? And she gavethe best comment ever, and people turned around and they were like, oh my God,I didn't even notice her sitting there, you know? (Laughter)
19:13 She comes back to me months later,and I realized that she had not just faked it till she made it, she hadactually faked it till she became it. So she had changed. And so I want to sayto you, don't fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it. You know?It's not — Do it enough until you actually become it and internalize.
19:33 The last thing I'm going to leaveyou with is this. Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes. So this is two minutes.Two minutes, two minutes, two minutes. Before you go into the next stressfulevaluative situation, for two minutes, try doing this, in the elevator, in abathroom stall, at your desk behind closed doors. That's what you want to do.Configure your brain to cope the best in that situation. Get your testosteroneup. Get your cortisol down. Don't leave that situation feeling like, oh, Ididn't show them who I am. Leave that situation feeling like, oh, I really feellike I got to say who I am and show who I am.
20:09 So I want to ask you first, youknow, both to try power posing, and also I want to ask you to share thescience, because this is simple. I don't have ego involved in this. (Laughter)Give it away. Share it with people, because the people who can use it the mostare the ones with no resources and no technology and no status and no power.Give it to them because they can do it in private. They need their bodies,privacy and two minutes, and it can significantly change the outcomes of theirlife. Thank you. (Applause) (Applause)