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  • So I want to start by offering you a free

  • no-tech life hack,

  • and all it requires of you is this:

  • that you change your posture for two minutes.

  • But before I give it away, I want to ask you to right now

  • do a little audit of your body and what you're doing with your body.

  • So how 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 arms like this.

  • Sometimes we spread out. (Laughter)

  • I see you. (Laughter)

  • So I want you to pay attention to what you're doing right now.

  • We're going to come back to that in a few minutes,

  • and I'm hoping that if you learn to tweak this a little bit,

  • it could significantly change the way your life unfolds.

  • So, we're really fascinated with body language,

  • and we're particularly interested

  • in other people's body language.

  • You know, we're interested in, like, you know — (Laughter) —

  • an awkward interaction, or a smile,

  • or a contemptuous glance, or maybe a very awkward wink,

  • or maybe even something like a handshake.

  • Narrator: Here they are arriving at Number 10, and look at this

  • lucky policeman gets to shake hands with the President

  • of the United States. Oh, and here comes

  • the Prime Minister of the — ? No. (Laughter) (Applause)

  • (Laughter) (Applause)

  • Amy Cuddy: So a handshake, or the lack of a handshake,

  • can have us talking for weeks and weeks and weeks.

  • Even the BBC and The New York Times.

  • So obviously when we think about nonverbal behavior,

  • or body language -- but we call it nonverbals as social scientists --

  • it's language, so we think about communication.

  • When we think about communication, we think about interactions.

  • So what is your body language communicating to me?

  • What's mine communicating to you?

  • And there's a lot of reason to believe that this is a valid

  • way to look at this. So social scientists have spent a lot

  • of time looking at the effects of our body language,

  • or other people's body language, on judgments.

  • And we make sweeping judgments and inferences from body language.

  • And those judgments can predict really meaningful 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 when people watch 30-second soundless clips

  • of real physician-patient interactions,

  • their judgments of the physician's niceness

  • predict whether or not that physician will be sued.

  • So it doesn't have to do so much with whether or not

  • that 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 of political candidates' faces

  • in just one second predict 70 percent of U.S. Senate

  • and gubernatorial race outcomes,

  • and even, let's go digital,

  • emoticons used well in online negotiations

  • can lead to you claim more value from that negotiation.

  • If you use them poorly, bad idea. Right?

  • So when we think of nonverbals, we think of how we judge

  • others, how they judge us and what the outcomes are.

  • We tend to forget, though, the other audience

  • that's influenced by our nonverbals, and that's ourselves.

  • We are also influenced by our nonverbals, our thoughts

  • and our feelings and our physiology.

  • So what nonverbals 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 would become interested in power dynamics.

  • I became especially interested in nonverbal expressions

  • of power and dominance.

  • And what are nonverbal expressions of 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 take up space, you're basically opening up.

  • It's about opening up. And this is true

  • across the animal kingdom. It's not just limited to primates.

  • And humans do the same thing. (Laughter)

  • So they do this both when they have power sort of chronically,

  • and also when they're feeling powerful in the moment.

  • And this one is especially interesting because it really shows us

  • how universal and old these expressions of power are.

  • This expression, which is known as pride,

  • Jessica Tracy has studied. She shows that

  • people who are born with sight

  • and people who are congenitally blind do this

  • when they win at a physical competition.

  • So when they cross the finish line and they've won,

  • it doesn't matter if they've never seen anyone do it.

  • They do this.

  • So the arms up in the V, the chin is slightly lifted.

  • What do we do when we feel powerless? We do exactly

  • the opposite. We close up. We wrap ourselves up.

  • We make ourselves small. We don't want to bump into the person next to us.

  • So again, both animals and humans do the same thing.

  • And this is what happens when you put together high

  • and low power. So what we tend to do

  • when it comes to power is that we complement the other's nonverbals.

  • So if someone is being really powerful with us,

  • we tend to make ourselves smaller. We don't mirror them.

  • We do the opposite of them.

  • So I'm watching this behavior in the classroom,

  • and what do I notice? I notice that MBA students

  • really exhibit the full range of power nonverbals.

  • So you have people who are like caricatures of alphas,

  • really coming into the room, they get right into the middle of the room

  • before class even starts, like they really want to occupy space.

  • When they sit down, they're sort of spread out.

  • They raise their hands like this.

  • You have other people who are virtually collapsing

  • when they come in. As soon they come in, you see it.

  • You see it on their faces and their bodies, and they sit

  • in their chair and they make themselves tiny,

  • and they go like this when they raise their hand.

  • I notice a couple of things about this.

  • One, you're not going to be surprised.

  • It seems to be related to gender.

  • So women are much more likely to do this kind of thing than men.

  • Women feel chronically less powerful than men,

  • so this is not surprising. But the other thing I noticed is that

  • it also seemed to be related to the extent to which

  • the students were participating, and how well they were participating.

  • And this is really important in the MBA classroom,

  • because participation counts for half the grade.

  • So business schools have been struggling with this gender grade gap.

  • You get these equally qualified women and men coming in

  • and then you get these differences in grades,

  • and it seems to be 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 to participate more?

  • So my main collaborator Dana Carney, who's at Berkeley,

  • and I really wanted to know, can you fake it till you make it?

  • Like, can you do this just for a little while and actually

  • experience a behavioral outcome that makes you seem more powerful?

  • So we know that our nonverbals govern how other people

  • think and feel about us. There's a lot of evidence.

  • But our question really was, do our nonverbals

  • govern how we think and feel about ourselves?

  • There's some evidence that they do.

  • So, for example, we smile when we feel happy,

  • but also, when we're forced to smile

  • by holding a pen in our teeth like this, it makes us feel happy.

  • So it goes both ways. When it comes to power,

  • it also goes both ways. So when you feel powerful,

  • you're more likely to do this, but it's also possible that

  • when you pretend to be powerful, you are more likely

  • to actually feel powerful.

  • So the second question really was, you know,

  • so we know that our minds change our bodies,

  • but is it also true that our 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 the sort of physiological things that make up our thoughts and feelings,

  • and in my case, that's hormones. I look at hormones.

  • So what do the minds of the powerful versus the powerless

  • look like?

  • So powerful people tend to be, not surprisingly,

  • more assertive and more confident, more optimistic.

  • They actually feel that they're going to win even at games of chance.

  • They also tend to be able to think more abstractly.

  • So there are a lot of differences. They take more risks.

  • There are a lot of differences between powerful and powerless people.

  • Physiologically, there also are differences on two

  • key hormones: testosterone, which is the dominance hormone,

  • and cortisol, which is the stress hormone.

  • So what we find is that

  • high-power alpha males in primate hierarchies

  • have high testosterone and low cortisol,

  • and powerful and effective leaders also have

  • high testosterone and low cortisol.

  • So what does that mean? When you think about power,

  • people tended to think only about testosterone,

  • because that was 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, but really stress reactive?

  • Probably not, right? You want the person

  • who's powerful and assertive and dominant,

  • but not very stress reactive, the person who's laid back.

  • So we know that in primate hierarchies, if an alpha

  • needs to take over, if an individual needs to take over

  • an alpha role sort of suddenly,

  • within a few days, that individual's testosterone has gone up

  • significantly and his cortisol has dropped significantly.

  • So we have this evidence, both that the body can shape

  • the mind, at least at the facial level,

  • 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 two minutes," you say, "I want you to stand like this,

  • and it's going to make you feel more powerful."

  • So this is what we did. We decided to bring people

  • into the lab and run a little experiment, and these people

  • adopted, for two minutes, either high-power poses

  • or low-power poses, and I'm just going to show you

  • five of the poses, although they took on only two.

  • So here's one.

  • A couple more.

  • This one has been dubbed the "Wonder Woman"

  • by the media.

  • Here are a couple more.

  • So you can be standing or you can be sitting.

  • And here are the low-power poses.

  • So you're folding up, you're making yourself small.

  • This one is very low-power.

  • When you're touching your neck,

  • 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 or this."

  • They don't look at pictures of the poses. We don't want to prime them

  • with a concept of power. We want them to be feeling power,

  • right? So two minutes 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 then we take another saliva sample.

  • That's it. That's the whole experiment.

  • So this is what we find. Risk tolerance, which is the gambling,

  • what we find is that when you're in the high-power

  • pose condition, 86 percent of you will gamble.

  • When you're in the low-power pose condition,

  • only 60 percent, and that's a pretty whopping significant difference.

  • Here's what we find on testosterone.

  • From their baseline when they come in, high-power people

  • experience about a 20-percent increase,

  • and low-power people experience about a 10-percent decrease.

  • So again, 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-power people experience about a 15-percent increase.

  • So two minutes lead to these hormonal changes

  • that configure your brain to basically be either

  • assertive, confident and comfortable,

  • or really stress-reactive, and, you know, feeling

  • sort of shut down. And we've all had the feeling, right?