High Power Poses: How to Boost Your Confidence in Two Minutes

If you need an extra dose of security and confidence, changing your body posture may be the key. We tell you what power poses are and how to use them.
High Power Poses: How to Boost Your Confidence in Two Minutes
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

If you’re an insecure person, you’ve probably often wished you could wave a magic wand and give yourself some extra confidence. For instance, when you had to speak in public, face a job interview, or even talk to someone you liked. It’s at these times that confidence makes all the difference, not only in how you feel but in the results you obtain. Therefore, it’s interesting to know about power poses.

Power poses are a useful and easy-to-implement tool. They’re based on the principle that the body and the mind are closely related and the states of one are reflected in the other in a bidirectional way. Therefore, just as your body expresses what you feel, a change in posture can also modify your emotions.

High power poses and low power poses

We all transmit a great deal of information through non-verbal language. For example, a smile, a downcast look, or a crossing of arms tell you whether the person you’re talking to is happy, fearful, or defensive. You pick this up instantly, and without any conscious effort. These types of displays are also produced in the animal world and they serve as interactions with others.

Generally, expansive and open postures show power and can be intimidating. On the other hand, a crouched, hunched, or contracted pose would indicate fear. In fact, you capture, through your body language, how you’re feeling, which also has an effect on yourself.

Depending on the postures you adopt, your physiology and psychology vary. You’ve probably heard the words, “Smile, even if you don’t feel like it, and you’ll feel happier”. This is a reality and is also relevant if you want to increase your confidence.

Friends talking about symbolizing conversational narcissism
Gestures and movements are powerful communication tools.

Two minutes is enough

In 2010, Amy Cuddy, Dana Carley, and Andy Yap conducted some interesting research. These scientists asked a group of people to adopt high power and low power poses for two minutes each and analyzed the changes in their bodies.

The results were surprising. Not only was trust modified on a psychological level, but also endocrine alterations were produced. In fact, high power postures reflected increases in testosterone and decreases in cortisol, while the opposite occurred with low power poses.

Testosterone is a hormone present in both men and women and is related to courage, self-confidence, and risk-taking. Cortisol is associated with stress, nervousness, and caution. Thus, it seems that placing yourself in a pose of power generates hormonal changes that favor feelings of confidence. The researchers also asked several volunteers to apply this technique before speaking in public. The results were similarly conclusive. Indeed, the participants claimed their anxiety was reduced and they felt more confident. It appears that maintaining their change of posture for just two minutes was enough to experience these effects.

Woman sitting with her hands behind her head
Power poses increase self-confidence and provides an image of success and confidence in others.

Use power posing in your daily life

Using high-power poses is extremely useful since they provide you with an almost instantaneous increase in confidence. However, what are these high-power positions? They’re those in which your arms are separated from your body and your trunk moves forward. They’re open and expansive postures. Here are some examples:

  • Raising your hands above your head in celebration.
  • Sitting down, clasping your hands behind your neck, and leaning back.
  • Placing your hands on a table or desk and leaning slightly forward.
  • Placing your arms akimbo and throwing your shoulders back.

As we’ve seen, research claims that holding these poses for two minutes is enough to build an extra dose of confidence. However, it can also be a positive move to make these postural changes for longer.

If you usually walk hunched over, with your head down or your arms crossed, this suggests a posture of weakness. It not only reflects fear or insecurity but also contributes to perpetrating this type of emotion in you. Modify your habits toward more expansive postures and you’ll notice lasting changes in your attitude.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Carney, D. R., Cuddy, A. J., & Yap, A. J. (2010). Power posing: Brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Psychological science21(10), 1363-1368.
  • Cuddy, A. J., Wilmuth, C. A., Yap, A. J., & Carney, D. R. (2015). Preparatory power posing affects nonverbal presence and job interview performance. Journal of Applied Psychology100(4), 1286.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.