Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.


  • hunch – to thrust out or up in a hump
  • unfold – to develop
  • infer – to derive by reasoning; conclude or judge from premises or evidence
  • bump into somebody – to meet by chance
  • congenital – of or pertaining to a condition present at birth, whether inherited or caused by the environment, especially the uterine environment
  • pose – to assume a particular attitude or stance, especially with the hope of impressing others


Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • What are nonverbals? (pause @ 2:10)
  • What does Amy say about doctors, politicians and emoticons? (pause @ 3:24)
  • What does  Amy say about the expression called “pride”? (pause @ 5:00)
  • How do people behave in the presence of someone in the position of power in term of their non-verbals? (pause @ 5:29)
  • What does Julie say about the grades of MBA students? (pause @ 6:55)
  • What are some differences between powerful and powerless people? (pause  @ 9:20)
  • Discuss the procedure and results of high-power and low-power poses. (pause @ 12:45)
  • What practical applications might Amy’s findings have? In what situations? (pause @ 13:30)
  • What were the results of the job-interview study? (pause @ 15:39)
  • Summarise Amy’s personal story of “I’m not supposed to be here.” How did it help a student of hers? (pause @ 19:40)


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the correct forms/tenses of the verbs in brackets.

 When I was 19, I ________ (be) in a really bad car accident. I ________ (throw) out of a car, ________ (roll) several times. I was thrown from the car. And I woke up in a head injury rehab ward, and I ________ (be) withdrawn from college, and I learned that my I.Q. ________ (drop) by two standard deviations, which was very traumatic. I ________ (know) my I.Q. because I ________ (identify) with being smart, and I ________ (be) called gifted as a child. So I’m taken out of college, I ________ (keep) trying to go back. They ________ (say), “You’re not going to finish college. Just, you know, there are other things for you to do, but that’s not going to work out for you.” So I really struggled with this, and I have to say, having your identity taken from you, your core identity, and for me it was ________ (be smart), having that taken from you, there’s nothing that leaves you ________ (feel) more powerless than that. So I ________ (feel) entirely powerless. I worked and worked and worked, and I got lucky, and worked, and got lucky, and worked.


Eventually I ________ (graduate) from college. It took me four years longer than my peers, and I convinced someone, my angel advisor, Susan Fiske, to take me on, and so I ________ (end up) at Princeton, and I was like, I am not supposed to be here. I am an impostor. And the night before my first-year talk, and the first-year talk at Princeton is a 20-minute talk to 20 people. That’s it. I was so afraid of ________ (find out) the next day that I called her and said, “I’m quitting.” She was like, “You are not quitting, because I took a gamble on you, and you’re staying. You’re going to stay, and this is what you’re going to do. You are going to fake it. You’re going to do every talk that you ever get asked to do. You’re just going to do it and do it and do it, even if you’re terrified and paralyzed and having an out-of-body experience, until you have this moment where you say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m doing it. Like, I ________ (become) this. I am actually doing this.'” So that’s what I did. Five years in grad school, a few years, you know, I’m at Northwestern, I moved to Harvard, I’m at Harvard, I ________ (not really think) about it anymore, but for a long time I ________ (think), “Not supposed to be here. Not supposed to be here.”

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