Power posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance

Psychol Sci. 2010 Oct;21(10):1363-8. doi: 10.1177/0956797610383437. Epub 2010 Sep 20.


Humans and other animals express power through open, expansive postures, and they express powerlessness through closed, contractive postures. But can these postures actually cause power? The results of this study confirmed our prediction that posing in high-power nonverbal displays (as opposed to low-power nonverbal displays) would cause neuroendocrine and behavioral changes for both male and female participants: High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern. In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes, and these findings suggest that embodiment extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiology and subsequent behavioral choices. That a person can, by assuming two simple 1-min poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful has real-world, actionable implications.

MeSH terms

  • Affect / physiology
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Female
  • Gambling / physiopathology
  • Gambling / psychology
  • Hierarchy, Social
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Male
  • Nonverbal Communication / physiology*
  • Nonverbal Communication / psychology*
  • Power, Psychological*
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Testosterone / blood*


  • Testosterone
  • Hydrocortisone