The positions that make you feel stronger

November 2010

Certain postures make us feel stronger, rapidly altering our physiology and psychology.

Place hands behind your head or feet on the table, are postures that change our hormone levels making us feel stronger, powerful and "daring". That's according to a study in the journal "Psychological Science" by Harvard researcher Amy J.C. Cuddy and his colleagues. By contrast, bending the body and bend your arms on the trunk, one feels "weak. " Therefore, Cuddy notes that "this is the first scientific demonstration that body position can affect our physiology."

To carry out the study, researchers asked 42 subjects to maintain certain positions for two minutes. Specifically, half of the volunteers remained one minute sitting in a chair with his body stretched out, hands behind his head and feet resting on the desk, and another minute's walk, slightly hunched over a table, palms of hands resting on it. The other group was tested two different positions: sitting in a chair with his arms crossed and hands folded, and standing with his arms and legs tightly crossed.

After the test, Cuddy and his colleagues took saliva samples to measure hormone levels and found that in the first group increased testosterone levels (19%) and reduced levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that, among other causes memory loss effects and reduces the effectiveness of the immune system. In the second group, the position was exactly the opposite effect. Also, in subsequent tests, scientists found that people with more levels of testosterone also felt stronger, "more energy"and were willing to take more risks than their peers.

The findings could have many immediate applications, since it only requires a short period of time to observe these hormonal changes. Cuddy says, "I like the idea that posture can alter the physiology and psychology of those who are weak in a matter of minutes."

Source: Psychological Science (http://pss.sagepub.com/)