Faking Powerful Body Language Reduces Stress and Makes You More Confident
People with powerful body language—movements that tend to be more open and spread out, that take up more space—also feel confidence. They're more likely to take risks, feel optimistic, and even produce less cortisol (the stress hormone) and more testosterone (the dominance hormone). Although we've known for awhile that displaying dominance through body language contributed to a more powerful appearance, Cuddy found that lower levels of stress were also a major contributory factor. She, and her partners, brought people into a lab and asked them to adopt both high- and low-power poses to find out if simply faking confidence (and displaying a lack thereof) had psychological and physiological effects. The study found that faking high-power poses caused people to become more confident and willing to take risks, but that their testosterone levels rose and their cortisol levels decreased significantly. Conversely, low-power poses cause the exact opposite reaction.
This information is interesting in a lab, but it's nothing more if it can't be put into practice in real life. The results of the study implies that you want to sprawl out in stressful situations to feel more powerful, but kicking your feet up during, say, a job interview definitely sends the wrong signal. Cuddy explains that it isn't so much the body language during high-stress moments that matter, but rather the nonverbal signals you create prior. In the event of a job interview, she found that opening up your body for a few minutes prior—even if it's privately in the bathroom—can make a big difference.