Keep Your Chin Up, Study Says


When you've found yourself suffering at the hands of melancholia, odds are, someone has offered you the sage advice "chin up!" And, odds are, the falsely cheery phrase elicited an exponential increase in your irritation. However, the next time life seems to be taking a toll on your mood, you might find it helpful to adhere to that suggestion, as it's now supported by scientific research.

Harvard Business School's Amy J. C. Cuddy, in collaboration with Columbia University's Dana R. Carney and Andy J. Yap, has conducted some intensive research delving into this subject. After experimentation involving 42 subjects (16 male and 26 female) who were randomly assigned to two treatments—one, a high power, "chin up" pose, and the other, a low power, slouchy pose—Cuddy, Carney, and Yap drew some definitive conclusions.

The results were self-evident. Maintaining a high power pose directly caused a dramatic increase in testosterone, a hormone traditionally associated with a sense of power, and an equally dramatic decrease in cortisol, a hormone linked to stress. "Posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes," states the study. "And these findings suggest that embodiment extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiology and subsequent behavioral choices."

There is a reason that every leader from Napoleon to Alexander the Great to that obnoxiously charismatic guy who beat you in the race for class president strutted around with flawless posture. Not only does the power pose make others more likely to follow you, but also it makes you more likely to believe in yourself.

ResearchHarvard Business School

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