Power Posing, Gender, and Class Participation

“As human creatures, we are hard wired to recognize subtle, non-verbal cues that communicate all kinds of information about the people around us. This video from Amy Cuddy of the Harvard Business School discusses research that found that just putting our bodies into Power Poses actually can make us more confident and have the bonus feature of making people more receptive to our ideas.” (This quote is from an excellent Gradhacker piece called Empowering Our Grad School Selves by Andrea Zellner.

What’s interesting about Cuddy and her research into power poses is the story behind what motivated it. She and other professors at the Harvard Business School were concerned about the gender differences in participation marks which make up half the grade for classes in the business school. They wanted to know whether women actually spoke less or whether they were just seen as less influential. The clip of Cuddy explaining about power poses and their impact on our perception of one another sounds fascinating. It’s certainly worth watching. I’m going to track down some of the scholarly work because this phenomena clearly has effects also on people with disabilities which would limit one’s ability to assume a power pose.

4 thoughts on “Power Posing, Gender, and Class Participation

  1. I have always wondered whether it has an effect if people have hair hanging over their eye(s).
    I tend to hate that, I tend to think people who have that are hiding things, whether that is true or not, but it always strikes me as something coming from either insecurity or disregard. Cuddy has hair hanging over her eye most of the time and she hunches a lot too, that maybe coincidental. It does seem to me that people having hair hanging over their eyes are trying to disappear, as in withdrawing behind a curtain.
    Trying to think of “powerful” men having hair hanging over their eyes, but you don’t see that much.
    Would be nice to know if there’s any research into that.

  2. Interesting observation, hippocampa. I hear hair comments to that effect all the time. I’ve spent a great deal of time around military people, trained fighters, and a few degenerates, so I’ve also trained myself to mimic their walk in a way that some of my more skittish girlfriends describe as “tough” or even “scary” (?!?)

    Now that I think of it, most of the men I’ve seen with both the walk and the hair are people like Vince Neill–ICK!! Or Mickey Rourke. Not as icky…even sexy when he was younger…but yes, something about him just screamed Bad and Dirty and I’ll Make You Like It. Those weird attraction/repulsion thingies always left me so confused ;-)

    I’m guessing that people tend to associate a disshevelled appearance with sloth, and our culture(s) just won’t allow the slothful to become confident or powerful. People assume that a person who is both successful and slothful must be capable of I don’t even want to know what type of dishonesty.

    That settles it. I must cut my bangs. It probably won’t prevent the gross things men say to me, but I bet women will stop being so rude if I let them see more of my face :-)

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