In my Visual Explanations course this semester, we learn about how gesture can facilitate cognition.
If you’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy this season (does ANYONE still watch Grey’s Anatomy other than me?), there was an episode this last week about the “superhero pose”. One of the doctors is about to begin an extremely challenging brain surgery, and she decides to hold this pose for 5 minutes prior to boost her confidence and performance.
While the vast amount of medical jargon on this show makes anyone in a medical profession cringe, this bit of information is mostly true. As this Psychology Today article, Superhero Stance, explains, holding a power pose for a few minutes can make people feel more powerful and act that way.
In the cited study, high-power poses included sitting in a chair, arms behind the head, elbows out, and feet up on a desk (like a boss, “relaxing”), and standing in front of a table, legs about a foot apart, leaning forward and hands on the table bearing weight.
This study indicates that not only can our minds change our bodies, but our bodies can change our minds.
Amy Cuddy, one of the researchers in this area, talk about her findings in the TED talk: Your body language shapes who you are. She speaks to the power of gesture and how our nonverbals govern not only how other people think and feel about us but how we think and feel about ourselves.
She discusses our natural body language reactions to powerful and powerless situations, and suggests that by intentionally placing ourselves in this body language positions, we can enact those feelings of power or powerlessness.
This is a long but interesting talk that I highly recommend. This week, as I begin to collect data in schools for my study, I will definitely be taking on some “power poses” before I start my days!