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 competence and warmth, 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.” Ultimately, Cuddy's research suggests that when people feel personally powerful, they become more present: better connected with their own thoughts and feelings, which helps them to better connect with the thoughts and feelings of others. Presence -- characterized by enthusiasm, confidence, engagement, and the ability to connect with and even captivate an audience -- boosts people's performance in a wide range of domains. 

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. 

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.” Ultimately, Cuddy's research suggests that when people feel personally powerful, they become more present: better connected with their own thoughts and feelings, which helps them to better connect with the thoughts and feelings of others. Presence -- characterized by enthusiasm, confidence, engagement, and the ability to connect with and even captivate an audience -- boosts people's performance in a wide range of domains. 

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. Young Global Leader: Named a Young Global Leader 2014 by the World Economic Forum.

  2. 50 Women Who Are Changing the World: Selected in 2013 as one of the "50 Women Who Are Changing the World” by Business Insider (read more).

  3. Game Changer: Included in Time Magazine’s 2012 list of "Game Changers" (read more).

  4. Rising Star: Selected as a 2011 Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science (read more).

  5. Talk of the Day: Gave the "Talk of the Day" at the PopTech (poptech.org) Annual Conference on October 21, 2011 (read more).

  6. Top 10 Psychology Studies of 2010 : Included as 1 of "The Top 10 Psychology Studies of 2010" by Psychology Today for "Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance" with Dana R. Carney and Andy J. Yap (Psychological Science, October 2010) (read more).

  7. HBR Breakthrough Ideas for 2009: Selected for the 2009 list of HBR Breakthrough Ideas for her research on "warmth and competence" (read more).

  8. Michele Alexander Early Career Award: Received the 2008 Michele Alexander Early Career Award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.