Research Summary


by Amy J.C. Cuddy


Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, uses experimental methods to investigate how people judge each other and themselves. Her research suggests that judgments along two critical trait dimensions – warmth/trustworthiness and competence/power – shape social interactions, determining such outcomes as who gets hired and who doesn’t, when we are more or less likely to take risks, why we admire, envy, or disparage certain people, elect politicians, or even target minority groups for genocide. Cuddy’s recent work focuses on how we embody and express these two traits, linking our body language to our hormone levels, our feelings, and our behavior. She also studies nonverbal behavior. Specifically, she examines postural feedback -- how changing our nonverbal posture and movement can affect our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In this work, she has focused on expansive, open nonverbal expressions, which are associated with power and confidence. In short, as David Brooks summarized the findings, “If you act powerfully, you will begin to think powerfully.”