Lambert explores the nature of first impressions through examining the research of social psychologist Amy Cuddy.
Cuddy explains, for example, that nonverbal cues are critical determinants of whether a person is viewed as "high power" or "low power:"
“In all animal species, postures that are expansive, open, and take up more space are associated with high power and dominance,” she says. “Postures that are contractive—limbs touching torso, protecting the vital organs, taking up minimal space—are associated with low power, being at the bottom of the hierarchy. Any animal you can think of, when it’s prey, makes itself as small as possible...
In primates, these postures also correlate with testosterone and cortisol levels. Expansive, high-power postures mean (in both sexes) high testosterone, a hormone that animal and human studies connect with dominance and power, and low levels of cortisol (the “stress” hormone), while the inverse holds for contractive, low-power postures."
What's more, Cuddy explains that taking on a posture of dominance is not only a sign of confidence, but can actually increase your level of confidence:
In a recent paper published in Psychological Science, Cuddy, Dana R. Carney, and Andy J. Yap (both of Columbia) report how they measured hormone levels of 42 male and female research subjects, placed the subjects in two high-power or low-power poses for a minute per pose, then re-measured their hormone levels 17 minutes later. They also offered subjects a chance to gamble, rolling a die to double a $2 stake.
The results were astonishing: a mere two minutes in high- or low-power poses caused testosterone to rise and cortisol to decrease—or the reverse. Those in high-power stances were also more likely to gamble, enacting a trait (risk taking) associated with dominant individuals; they also reported feeling more powerful. “If you get this effect in two minutes, imagine what you get sitting in the CEO’s chair for a year,” Cuddy says.
From the Green Room: Right before you get up to speak, get your body into it's most confident state. This is a simple way to increase your level of confidence - and your potential for success - each and every time you speak.