Pre thinking:

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

Who is she:

Cuddy has, a finalist for the Thinkers50 International Leadership Award. Her research has been covered in the New York Times, Financial Times, Wired, Fast Company, Economist, Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal, and on the Today Show, CNN, and many other news outlets.

Amy Cuddy wasn’t supposed to become a successful scientist. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to finish her undergraduate degree. Early in her college career, Cuddy suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident, and doctors said she would struggle to finish school.

Well, the doctors were wrong; today she is a Professor at Harvard and she has been named a 2014 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, a “Game Changer” by TIME Magazine, and one of the “50 Women Who Are Changing the World” by Business Insider.

Why you should watch:

Amy Cuddy’s research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions — and even our own body chemistry — simply by changing body positions. “Using a few simple tweaks to body language, Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy discovers ways to help people become more powerful.” — TIME Game Changers, March 19, 2012

Discussion questions:

  1. According to Amy Cuddy, what is the relationship between body language and other behaviors such as judgement?
  2. What are nonverbal expressions of power and dominance? How do they affect our behavior as well as the behavior of others?
  3. Do some research on power and body language. You might try to a high power stance in one situation and a low power stance in another similar situation and note the outcomes. Report your findings to another student, or write up the study and submit it to your professor for extra credit.
  4. Try your own research with “power poses” (both high and low); are your observations of yourself similar to those reported by Amy Cuddy? (You are probably not equipped to do hormonal analysis, but how do you feel?)
  5. What does she mean by, “Fake it ‘til you make it”? Can you identify a time in your life, or in the life of a friend when this advice was helpful?
  6. How is this different (see question 5) than “Fake it ‘til you become it”?
  7. Next time you are facing a stressful situation, try 2 minutes’ worth of tiny tweaks. Did doing it lead to big changes?

Making connections:

Want to learn more about nonverbal communication? Check out this link:



Your body language shapes who you are with Amy Cuddy


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