The superhero stance or power pose is a standing position with feet apart and fists resting on your hips and your elbows bent (like a superhero). This has been believed to project power, thus it has been named the power pose. A study done at Harvard University in 2012 shows that holding this stance for just two minutes before a challenging task will help you perform better. It is also referred to as an open posture since the limbs are spread far apart. Psychologists believe that open postures show that you have more confidence compared to those who assume a more ‘closed off’ posture. It has also been found to make one more approachable and friendly, as opposed to someone who has their arms crossed in front of them (another reason why waiting staff at restaurants are taught to keep their hands behind their backs or at their sides).
Since being shown on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, this theory and the correlating study has piqued the curiosity of many people. Those who have decided to test this theory have reported that they felt calmer, stronger and more powerful…just like a superhero. This, in turn, has been found to boost overall self-confidence.
But can simply striking a pose really alter the brain’s chemistry? Yes, according to Harvard’s studies, holding the power pose for as little as two minutes results in a 20% increase in testosterone (power/dominance hormone) levels and a 25% decrease in cortisol (stress hormone) levels. It also results in a change in behavior consistent with that of a superhero due to the elevated confidence. The study confirms that your body posture influences your brain which in turn impacts your feelings. Amy Cuddy, a social Psychologist known for promoting the power pose, says “our nonverbal cues govern how we think and feel about ourselves. Our bodies change our minds.”
Although there are doubts around this theory, the studies have proven that there is some merit to it. The power pose is not pseudoscience but a practical life hack to help build confidence and reach your full potential. So puff out your chest, back straight, rest your fists on your hips with elbows bent, feet apart, chin up and stare out into the distance…channel your inner superhero and face that next big challenge head-on.