Thoughts From Our Heads

Thoughts From Our Heads


Emotions and Body Language

Sunday 4th December 2016

I'm sure you've noticed your emotions influence your body language; when you are sad you smile less, you might walk with your head down and avoid making eye contact with people. When you're happy you smile more, your eyes are wider and your non-verbal gestures are encouraging and welcoming to others. If you think of someone who is confident then you probably think of someone who stands tall, with shoulders back and head held high, perhaps they have their arms out all their legs stood slightly wide.

Researchers at Harvard University asked the question - if our emotions impact our body language, could we turn that around so that our body language impacts our emotions? So can we use our body language to feel more confident?

The researchers took a group of people and before the experiment measured their baseline levels of two hormones - testosterone and cortisol. Testosterone is the hormone is linked to confidence; the more confident we are the more testosterone we produce. Cortisol is the hormone that is linked to stress; the more stressed we are the more cortisol we produce.

The researches split the participants into two groups and had them stand in a variety of poses for the experiment. The first group was instructed to adopt a set of poses that were deemed 'high-power poses'. In these poses the participants had to make themselves bigger, so they stood with their hands on my hips their legs spread hands spread across the desk or hands spread behind the head. The second group occupied a variety of 'low-power poses'. In this group the participants make themselves smaller, so they would hunch over a desk, stand with their legs and arms drawn in to their bodies and head bowed. After just two minutes the participants stopped the posing and their levels of hormones were measured again. What they found was that for the high-power pose group their levels of testosterone has increased and for the low-power pose group their levels of cortisol had increased.

So just from simple changes in your body language you can change the chemicals in your body in just two minutes. What does this mean for you in your life? Body language matters, if you adopt low-power poses - for example hunching over to read your phone you will naturally feel less confident. Therefore before you go into that big meeting, interview or presentation adopt a high-power pose for a few minutes this will increase your testosterone and make you feel more powerful and confident. Just don't put your legs upon the desk in your interview because it probably won't go down too well!

For the original research search Amy Cuddy Harvard University