Amy Cuddy describes how your body language can affect your hormones, thoughts, and behaviors. Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes.
The specifics of her experiment apply to feelings of power and confidence, so they’re at least indirectly applicable to sexuality. Here’s an excerpt that describes some of her results. The 20-minute video is worth watching in full.
So this is what we did. We decided to bring people into the lab and run a little experiment, and these people adopted, for two minutes, either high-power poses or low-power poses, and I’m just going to show you five of the poses, although they took on only two. So here’s one. A couple more. This one has been dubbed the “Wonder Woman” by the media. Here are a couple more. So you can be standing or you can be sitting. And here are the low-power poses. So you’re folding up, you’re making yourself small.This one is very low-power. When you’re touching your neck, you’re really protecting yourself. So this is what happens. They come in, they spit into a vial, for two minutes, we say, “You need to do this or this.”They don’t look at pictures of the poses. We don’t want to prime them with a concept of power. We want them to be feeling power. So two minutes they do this. We then ask them, “How powerful do you feel?” on a series of items, and then we give them an opportunity to gamble, and then we take another saliva sample. That’s it. That’s the whole experiment.
So this is what we find. Risk tolerance, which is the gambling, we find that when you are in the high-power pose condition, 86 percent of you will gamble. When you’re in the low-power pose condition, only 60 percent, and that’s a whopping significant difference. Here’s what we find on testosterone. From their baseline when they come in, high-power people experience about a 20-percent increase, and low-power people experience about a 10-percent decrease. So again, two minutes, and you get these changes.Here’s what you get on cortisol. High-power people experience about a 25-percent decrease, and the low-power people experience about a 15-percent increase. So two minutes lead to these hormonal changes that configure your brain to basically be either assertive, confident and comfortable, or really stress-reactive, and feeling sort of shut down. And we’ve all had the feeling, right? So it seems that our nonverbals do govern how we think and feel about ourselves, so it’s not just others, but it’s also ourselves. Also, our bodies change our minds.
Take-away: try some power poses before sex and see how it affects you and your spouse. Bonus points for posing together!