Amy J.C. Cuddy

Associate Professor of Business Administration, Hellman Faculty Fellow

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, uses experimental methods to investigate how people judge and influence 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. Her latest research illuminates how “faking” body postures that convey competence and power (“power posing”) – even for as little as two minutes -- changes our testosterone and cortisol levels, increases our appetite for risk, causes us to perform better in job interviews, and generally configures our brains to cope well in stressful situations. In short, as David Brooks summarized the findings, “If you act powerfully, you will begin to think powerfully.”

Amy J. C. Cuddy is Associate Professor and Hellman Faculty Fellow in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit at Harvard Business School. She holds a PhD in Psychology from Princeton University and BA in Social Psychology from the University of Colorado. Prior to joining HBS, Professor Cuddy was an Assistant Professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where she taught Leadership in Organizations in the MBA program and Research Methods in the doctoral program; and an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University, where she taught Social Psychology. At Harvard, she has taught MBA courses on the psychology of persuasion, power, and negotiation, and in numerous executive education programs. 

Professor Cuddy studies the origins and outcomes of how we perceive and are influenced by other people, investigating the roles of variables such as stereotypes, emotions, nonverbal behaviors, and hormones.Her stereotyping research focuses on social categories (e.g., Asian Americans, elderly people, Latinos, working mothers) – how they are judged by others and by their own members (i.e., stereotyping), and how these judgments set the tone and content of social interactions (i.e., prejudice and discrimination). Along with Susan Fiske (Princeton University) and Peter Glick (Lawrence University), Cuddy developed the Stereotype Content Model (SCM) and the Behaviors from Intergroup Affect and Emotions (BIAS) Map, which focus on judgments of other people and groups along two core trait dimensions, warmth and competence, and how these judgments shape and motivate our social emotions, intentions, and behaviors. This work has been cited over 3000 times.

Cuddy’s research with Dana Carney (UC-Berkeley) focuses on how nonverbal expressions of power (i.e., expansive, open, space-occupying postures) affect people’s feelings, behaviors, and hormone levels. In particular, their research shows that “faking” body postures associated with dominance and power (“power posing”) – even for as little as two minutes – increases people’s testosterone, decreases their cortisol, increases their appetite for risk, and causes them to perform better in job interviews. In short, as David Brooks summarized the findings, “If you act powerfully, you will begin to think powerfully.”

Her research has been published in top academic journals, including Journal of Personality and Social PsychologyTrends in Cognitive SciencesPsychological Science, Research in Organizational Behavior, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, and Science. She received the Alexander Early Career Award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues in 2008, a Rising Star Award from the Association for Psychological Science in 2011, and her joint research with Dana Carney and Andy Yap was named one of the Top 10 Psychology Studies of 2010 by Psychology Today. Her research has been covered on CNN, MSNBC, by the New York TimesFinancial TimesTIME, Boston Globe, and Wall Street Journal, among other news outlets, and was featured in Harvard Business Review's Top 20 Breakthrough Ideas for 2009 ("Just Because I'm Nice, Don't Assume I'm Dumb"), Scientific American Mind in 2010 ("Mixed Impressions: How We Judge Others on Multiple Levels"), as the cover story in the Nov-Dec 2010 issue of Harvard Magazine ("The Psyche on Automatic"), in a 2011 David Brooks New York Times blog ("Matter Over Mind"), in Wired magazine in 2012 (“Strike a Pose, Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy Has an Easy Life Hack: Stretch Out and Take Up Space”), and in Inc. magazine in 2012 (“Leadership Advice: Strike a Pose”).  She has also appeared on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 several times to discuss nonverbals in politics, and TIME magazine named Cuddy as one of 2012's 'Game Changers.' She has spoken at PopTech, TED,  TEDGlobal, and SXSW Interactive. Her 2012 TEDTalk ("Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are"), ranks among the top 5 most popular TEDTalks of all time. In May 2013, Business Insider named Cuddy as one of "50 Women Who are Changing the World." In 2014, Amy was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

  1. Connect, Then Lead (by Amy Cuddy, John Neffinger, & Matt Kohut)

    Is it better to be loved or feared?

     Niccolò Machiavelli pondered that timeless conundrum 500 years ago and hedged his bets. “It may be answered that one should wish to be both,” he acknowledged, “but because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved.”

    Now behavioral science is weighing in with research showing that Machiavelli had it partly right: When we judge others—especially our leaders—we look first at two characteristics: how lovable they are (their warmth, communion, or trustworthiness) and how fearsome they are (their strength, agency, or competence). Although there is some disagreement about the proper labels for the traits, researchers agree that they are the two primary dimensions of social judgment.

  2. Business Insider's 50 Women Who Are Changing The World

    Women are having a bigger impact on our world than ever. In the past year, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg pushed feminism back into the center of the national discourse.In Afghanistan, a country where women used to be treated as second class citizens, parliament member Fawzia Koofi made history by announcing plans to run for president.

    To recognize these and other impressive women, we asked readers for nominations and asked our reporters and editors to vote on the women who did the most in the past year to change the world.

  3. The 20 Online Talks That Could Change Your Life

    The Guardian - August 27, 2013
    Professor Amy JC Cuddy, of Harvard Business School argues that not only do our non-verbal communications govern how others think and feel about us, they also have a significant effect on how we feel about ourselves.
  4. Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are: Amy Cuddy at TEDGlobal 2012

    Within two months of being posted, Amy Cuddy's viral TEDTalk reached 2 million views and became one of the 50 most-viewed TEDTalks of all time. It was also the 8th most-saved video of 2012, according to Pocket (from GetPocket.com, 12/20/2012).

    Cuddy starts by asking us to pay attention to what we’re doing with our bodies. Are our shoulders hunched? Are we trying to not bump into the person next to us? Are we sprawled out?

    “We’re fascinated with body language,” she says. We dissect and analyze and judge people, and in particular we scrutinize public leaders.  But, says Cuddy, there is another half that we ignore, another audience. Ourselves. Does our own body language affect how we think of ourselves?

  5. First Impressions: The Science of Meeting People

    A strong handshake and assertive greeting may not be the best way to make a good first impression. New research suggests that people respond more positively to someone who comes across as trustworthy rather than confident.

    Social psychologist Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School is studying how we evaluate people we meet. Turns out that when we meet individuals or groups for the first time, we mostly evaluate two metrics: trustworthiness and confidence. And the best part is that once you understand this, you can learn to make a better first impression.
  6. CNN Anderson Cooper 360: Debate Body Language Speaks Volumes

    Amy Cuddy points to past debates for examples of non-verbal cues that can change how a candidate's message is received.

  7. What Your Sitting Style Says About You

    Ever wonder how some people just seem to exude power and confidence? According to Harvard professor Amy Cuddy, it’s all in the way you sit and stand. TODAY’s Amy Robach explores how changing your posture can change your life.

  8. Game Changers: Amy Cuddy, Power Poser

    Using a few simple tweaks to body language, Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy discovers ways to help people become more powerful

  9. Boost Power Through Body Language

    Amy Cuddy, assistant professor at Harvard Business School, describes a simple way to raise confidence and reduce stress.
  10. The Psyche on Automatic: Amy Cuddy Probes Snap Judgments, Warm Feelings, and How to Become an “Alpha Dog”

    Social psychologist Cuddy, an assistant professor of business administration, investigates how people perceive and categorize others. Warmth and competence, she finds, are the two critical variables. They account for about 80 percent of our overall evaluations of people (i.e., Do you feel good or bad about this person?), and shape our emotions and behaviors toward them. Her warmth/competence analysis illuminates why we hire Kurt instead of Kyra, how students choose study partners, who gets targeted for sexual harassment, and how the “motherhood penalty” and “fatherhood bonus” exert their biases in the workplace. It even suggests why we admire, envy, or disparage certain social groups, elect politicians, or target minorities for genocide.
  11. Power Postures Can Make You Feel More Powerful

    Sit up straight and listen: Amy Cuddy has a plan to help you change your life. And it’s easy. The Harvard psychologist recently completed a study demonstrating that positioning our bodies a certain way doesn’t just tell people we’re powerful, it actually makes us more powerful. And she has the data to prove it: Standing tall directly influences our biochemistry, increasing testosterone, decreasing cortisol, and generally making us feel dominant. So pull back those shoulders and stretch out. Stand like Superman and you’ll become the Man of Steel.
  12. Power Posing: Gain Power Through Body Language

    *Designated "Talk of the Day"
    Amy Cuddy revealed that we can actually change feelings we have about our own status through the physical positions we take with our bodies. Her research participants had higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol after only two minutes in a “power pose”. Cuddy asked if such findings can have wider implications for empowerment training.
  13. Matter Over Mind, by David Brooks

    I had a fantastic visit to the Harvard Decision Sciences Lab...and I got to meet several of the researchers there.

    I got to hear Amy Cuddy of the Harvard Business School, describe her research. I pause to describe Cuddy’s background because I’ve been struck by the number of people I meet in the general field of brain and behavioral research who have suffered some form of personal trauma.

  14. Power Posing: Fake It Until You Make it

    Nervous about an upcoming presentation or job interview? Holding one's body in "high-power" poses for short time periods can summon an extra surge of power and sense of well-being when it's needed, according to Harvard Business School professor Amy J.C. Cuddy.