Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2012

Preparatory Power Posing Affects Performance and Outcomes in Social Evaluations

by Amy J.C. Cuddy, Caroline A. Wilmuth and Dana R. Carney

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Power; Power Posing; Social Evaluation; Nonverbal Behavior; Performance; Nonverbal Communication; Behavior; Performance; Power and Influence;

Citation:

Cuddy, Amy J.C., Caroline A. Wilmuth, and Dana R. Carney. "Preparatory Power Posing Affects Performance and Outcomes in Social Evaluations." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 13-027, September 2012. (Revised November 2012.)