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What do we do when we feel powerless? We do exactly the opposite. We close up. We wrap ourselves up. We make ourselves small. We don't want to bump into the person next to us. So again, both animals and humans do the same thing. And this is what happens when you put together high and low power.
So what we tend to do when it comes to power is that we complement the other's nonverbals. So if someone is being really powerful with us, we tend to make ourselves smaller. We don't mirror them. We do the opposite of them. So I'm watching this behavior in the classroom, and what do I notice? I notice that MBA students really exhibit the full range of power nonverbals. So you have people who are like caricatures of alphas, really coming into the room, they get right into the middle of the room before class even starts, like they really want to occupy space.
When they sit down, they're sort of spread out. They raise their hands like this.
You have other people who are virtually collapsing when they come in. As soon they come in, you see it. You see it on their faces and their bodies, and they sit in their chair and they make themselves tiny, and they go like this when they raise their hand. I notice a couple of things about this. One, you're not going to be surprised. It seems to be related to gender.
So women are much more likely to do this kind of thing than men. Women feel chronically less powerful than men, so this is not surprising. But the other thing I noticed is that it also seemed to be related to the extent to which the students were participating, and how well they were participating. And this is really important in the MBA classroom, because participation counts for half the grade. So business schools have been struggling with this gender grade gap.
You get these equally qualified women and men coming in and then you get these differences in grades, and it seems to be partly attributable to participation. So I started to wonder, you know, okay, so you have these people coming in like this, and they're participating. Is it possible that we could get people to fake it and would it lead them to participate more?
So my main collaborator Dana Carney, who's at Berkeley, and I really wanted to know, can you fake it till you make it? Like, can you do this just for a little while and actually experience a behavioral outcome that makes you seem more powerful?
So we know that our nonverbals govern how other people think and feel about us. There's a lot of evidence. But our question really was, do our nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves?
There's some evidence that they do. So, for example, we smile when we feel happy, but also, when we're forced to smile by holding a pen in our teeth like this, it makes us feel happy. So it goes both ways. When it comes to power, it also goes both ways. So when you feel powerful, you're more likely to do this, but it's also possible that when you pretend to be powerful, you are more likely to actually feel powerful. So the second question really was, you know, so we know that our minds change our bodies, but is it also true that our bodies change our minds?
And when I say minds, in the case of the powerful, what am I talking about? So I'm talking about thoughts and feelings and the sort of physiological things that make up our thoughts and feelings, and in my case, that's hormones.
I look at hormones. So what do the minds of the powerful versus the powerless look like?
So powerful people tend to be, not surprisingly, more assertive and more confident, more optimistic. They actually feel they're going to win even at games of chance. They also tend to be able to think more abstractly. So there are a lot of differences. They take more risks.
There are a lot of differences between powerful and powerless people. Physiologically, there also are differences on two key hormones: testosterone, which is the dominance hormone, and cortisol, which is the stress hormone. So what we find is that high-power alpha males in primate hierarchies have high testosterone and low cortisol, and powerful and effective leaders also have high testosterone and low cortisol.
So what does that mean? When you think about power, people tended to think only about testosterone, because that was about dominance.
But really, power is also about how you react to stress. So do you want the high-power leader that's dominant, high on testosterone, but really stress reactive? Probably not, right? You want the person who's powerful and assertive and dominant, but not very stress reactive, the person who's laid back. So we know that in primate hierarchies, if an alpha needs to take over, if an individual needs to take over an alpha role sort of suddenly, within a few days, that individual's testosterone has gone up significantly and his cortisol has dropped significantly.
So we have this evidence, both that the body can shape the mind, at least at the facial level, and also that role changes can shape the mind. So what happens, okay, you take a role change, what happens if you do that at a really minimal level, like this tiny manipulation, this tiny intervention? We decided to bring people into the lab and run a little experiment, and these people adopted, for two minutes, either high-power poses or low-power poses, and I'm just going to show you five of the poses, although they took on only two.
So here's one. A couple more. This one has been dubbed the "Wonder Woman" by the media. Here are a couple more. So you can be standing or you can be sitting. And here are the low-power poses.
So you're folding up, you're making yourself small. This one is very low-power. When you're touching your neck, you're really protecting yourself. So this is what happens. They come in, they spit into a vial, for two minutes, we say, "You need to do this or this. We don't want to prime them with a concept of power. We want them to be feeling power. So two minutes they do this. We then ask them, "How powerful do you feel?
That's it. That's the whole experiment. So this is what we find. Risk tolerance, which is the gambling, we find that when you are in the high-power pose condition, 86 percent of you will gamble. When you're in the low-power pose condition, only 60 percent, and that's a whopping significant difference.
Here's what we find on testosterone. From their baseline when they come in, high-power people experience about a percent increase, and low-power people experience about a percent decrease. So again, two minutes, and you get these changes.
Here's what you get on cortisol. High-power people experience about a percent decrease, and the low-power people experience about a percent increase. So two minutes lead to these hormonal changes that configure your brain to basically be either assertive, confident and comfortable, or really stress-reactive, and feeling sort of shut down. And we've all had the feeling, right? So it seems that our nonverbals do govern how we think and feel about ourselves, so it's not just others, but it's also ourselves.
Also, our bodies change our minds. But the next question, of course, is, can power posing for a few minutes really change your life in meaningful ways? This is in the lab, it's this little task, it's just a couple of minutes.
Where can you actually apply this? Which we cared about, of course. And so we think where you want to use this is evaluative situations, like social threat situations. Where are you being evaluated, either by your friends?
For teenagers, it's at the lunchroom table. For some people it's speaking at a school board meeting. It might be giving a pitch or giving a talk like this or doing a job interview. We decided that the one that most people could relate to because most people had been through, was the job interview.
So we published these findings, and the media are all over it, and they say, Okay, so this is what you do when you go in for the job interview, right? Laughter You know, so we were of course horrified, and said, Oh my God, no, that's not what we meant at all.
For numerous reasons, no, don't do that. Again, this is not about you talking to other people. It's you talking to yourself. What do you do before you go into a job interview? You do this. You're sitting down. You're looking at your iPhone — or your Android, not trying to leave anyone out. You're looking at your notes, you're hunching up, making yourself small, when really what you should be doing maybe is this, like, in the bathroom, right? Do that. Find two minutes.
So that's what we want to test. So we bring people into a lab, and they do either high- or low-power poses again, they go through a very stressful job interview. It's five minutes long. They are being recorded. They're being judged also, and the judges are trained to give no nonverbal feedback, so they look like this.
Imagine this is the person interviewing you. So for five minutes, nothing, and this is worse than being heckled.
People hate this. It's what Marianne LaFrance calls "standing in social quicksand. So this is the job interview we put them through, because we really wanted to see what happened. We then have these coders look at these tapes, four of them. They're blind to the hypothesis.
Buck Angel , a trans man and adult film producer. Ian Harvie , an American comedian and openly transgender man. Chaz Bono , American author and transgender activist. Originally, the term trans men referred specifically to female-to-male transsexual people who underwent hormone replacement therapy HRT or sex reassignment surgery SRS , or both.
The definition of transition has broadened to include theories of psychological development or complementary methods of self-acceptance. Transsexual and transgender men may seek medical interventions such as hormones and surgery to make their bodies as congruent as possible with their gender presentation. However, many transgender and transsexual men cannot afford or choose not to undergo surgery or hormone replacement therapy. Many who have not undergone top surgery choose to bind their breasts.
There are a few different methods of binding, including using sports bras and specially made binders which can be vest-type, or wrap-around style. Tape or bandages, although often depicted in popular culture, should never be used for binding as they tighten with wear and compress the ribcage, and could result in injury. However, this is not universal.
Trans men who decide to pack may use anything from rolled up socks to specially made packers, which resemble a penis.