Friday, 21 June 2013

Dr. Amy Cuddy on "Power Posing"

Last night Steven and I watched this TEDTalk on "power posing" and how it reconfigures the hormones in your brain to be more powerful-- in the sense of authentic, engaging, confident, and passionate (not in the sense of lording it over others or being the alpha dog).

I thought it was fascinating as it relates to my recent post on canting. Dr. Cuddy describes how a person who is insecure or feeling weak "collaspes into themselves" with head down, arms down and towards the torso, and feet and knees together. It's certainly not identical to canting, but it bears some striking similarities: the tendency of the head to be angled downwards, of the arms not to lift above the shoulders, of the feet or arms to be crossed. As well, both feature an off-balanced positioning. Both serve the same purpose, though for different reasons: to persuade onlookers that the poser is not a threat.

Now, the low-power postures Dr. Cuddy describes are an instinctual, emotionally-hardwired way of reacting to feeling weak, while canting is a culturally-learned way of responding to peer pressure (i.e. canting is seen as how feminine and desirable women pose in our culture, and most women would like to be seen as feminine and desirable.) But I wonder if the reaction of women's bodies to canting is the same as the reaction of our bodies to low-power posing; I wonder if canting actually causes us to be more easily stressed, more likely to hide our true passions and personalities, and less confident. I can only speculate, since that wasn't within the scope of Dr. Cuddy's study, but certainly it's a point worth considering. It makes me want to stand a little straighter and square my shoulders when I face the world-- what about you?

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