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October 03, 2021

Power Postures

We all are fans of super-heroes and super-heroines, the divine avatars and supernatural beings. We want them around and with us to protect, shield and save ourselves from super-villains, evil-minded individuals, monsters, demons, natural calamities, catastrophes and disasters in the world which is highly susceptible to disorder, calamity, disaster, destruction and chaos. Don't we really?

From ancient mythological superheroes like Hercules, Thor and Hanuman (Indian Super-hero from epic Ramayana) to modern day Superman, Iron Man, Batman and Wonder Woman; their stories and legends have made their way into almost every household on this planet through oral traditions, (comic) books, dramas, movies, images, statues, figurines and toys. All super-heroes and super-heroines have distinct dresses and distinct signature postures.

In their stories, all super-heroes and super-heroines are depicted as very powerful, strong, skilled and risk-taking individuals who are often equipped with body armors, shields and weapons. They look and appear very different in entire crowd just by standing differently in the first place. Their faces are held upward, necks are exposed, shoulders are stretched wider, chests are puffed, two legs are put apart from each other, forearms are put on their hips and feasts are clenched or weapons are wielded in them. They appear very formidable.

If they don't adapt their signature postures and put on ordinary clothes while facing the super-villains, evil-minded individuals, demons, natural calamities, catastrophes and disasters; they would appear or look no different than the entire crowd filled with ordinary, weak and vulnerable people who seek their protection in the first place.

Their signature postures are their own ways to show that they are capable of facing dangers and saving people. By adapting such postures they physically prepare themselves, assert themselves into people's eyes and warn their opponents.

We are not super-heroes and super-heroines and they are not us but we mimic or impersonate them. Children often dress up themselves like super-heroes and super-heroines. Until they don't make signature poses, mimicry or impersonation is not complete. So is it the posture that makes super-heroes and super-heroines what they really are? Do such postures really benefit the ordinary people? Can we turn ourselves into super-heroes and super-heroines just by adapting their signature postures?

Until year 2010, nobody was quite sure about the same to be able to make scientific claims publicly through an article and later a popular TED talk in year 2012. It made Dr. Amy Cuddy (social psychologist, author and speaker) enormously famous overnight world over. According to her, if we consciously adapt high-power postures during (potentially) stressful social interactions then we feel confident, in-control, calm, powerful and dominant.

With more that 20 millions of views, it could be one of the most watched body language videos ever published on the internet.

She studied and found that both humans and animals unconsciously adapt such open, upright body and limb extending postures when they are in control, powerful and feeling accomplished in various situations e. g. winning a contest, defeating an opponent etc. She conducted an experiment on how nonverbal expressions of power and control through expansive, open, wider, broader and space-occupying body postures affect people's feelings, behaviors and hormone levels.

She claimed that adapting body postures that express dominance and power ("power posing") for as little as two minutes before facing the actual situation can increase testosterone (stress reducing hormone), decrease cortisol (stress inducting hormone) and increase appetite for taking risks. Eventually, it leads to higher possibilities of better performance during stressful interactions especially job interviews.

A) Low-Power Postures/Poses: Closed, Non-Assertive, Constricted, Twisted and Space-giving body postures

B) High-Power Postures/Poses: Open, Assertive, Wider, Broader and Space-occupying body postures

Her theory of “power posing” emphasizes the influencing power of body language during social interactions. Showing power and dominance through body postures eventually makes a person feel powerful, confident and stress-free was the central idea of her theory which faced many counter-claims, threats, rebuttal and denial too. Also, there are a lot of contradictory results presented against her promising 'self-empowerment' theory of consciously adapted power postures by different scientific studies till date.

In animal kingdom, both low power and high power postures/poses are quite prevalent. Animals use them unconsciously during the kind of confrontations in which showing power, confidence and dominance is necessary to distinguish a high-power individual from a low-power individual(s). Does it really work for humans by adapting power postures consciously (before facing somebody)? Should we purposefully adapt power postures to appear like super-heroes and super-heroines in public?

According to my own thoughts and opinions, we constantly need to audit, check and question ourselves for the postures which we adapt unconsciously in the given social situation and physical condition. If postures are really closing, shrinking, bending and twisting our bodies unnecessarily we can adapt open, aligned, upright and good body postures. By doing so, we wouldn't ruin our musculoskeletal fitness, joints and spine in the first place.

Additionally, if you're genuinely competent, strong and expert in your professional skills (and you've proved the same); open, upright and confident body postures would definitely suit on you if you adapt them reasonably, especially in front of individuals who see you as a pioneer, a leader, a motivator, an inspirer or an influencer.

Related Articles:
1) Postures 2) Domination 3) Why we clench fist after victory? 4) My posture discovery 5) Good posture is Healthy 6) Positive Body Language 7) Confident Body Language 8) Conscious shift in body language 9) Let your spirit soar higher 10) Body Language in Advertisement