| HBS Working Paper Series
Preparatory Power Posing Affects Performance and Outcomes in Social Evaluations
This experiment tested whether changing one's nonverbal behavior prior to an important social evaluation could improve performance on the evaluated task. Participants adopted expansive, open (high-power) poses or contractive, closed (low-power) poses, and then prepared and delivered a speech to two evaluators as part of a mock job interview—a prototypical social evaluation. All speeches were videotaped and coded for overall performance and hireability as well as for two potential mediators: speech content (e.g., content, structure) and speaker presence (e.g., captivating, enthusiastic). As predicted, those who prepared with high-power poses performed better and were more likely to be chosen for hire; this relationship was mediated by speaker presence, but not speech content. Power-pose condition had no effect on body posture during the social evaluation, thus revealing a relationship between preparatory nonverbal behavior and subsequent performance, and highlighting preparatory power posing as a simple performance-boosting tool with the potential to benefit almost anyone.