How To Look Powerful In Any Culture
Power, we know, is in the eye of the beholder, but it depends heavily on the beholder’s cultural background. Researchers at the University of Buffalo conducted four studies with more than 600 men and women born in the U.S. or East Asia (e.g., China, South Korea, Japan) to examine the psychological experience of viewing and enacting expansive (versus constricted) body postures. The expansive postures, which were based on previous research, consisted of an expansive-hands-spread-on-desk pose (i.e., standing up and leaning over on a desk with hands spread apart), an expansive-upright-sitting pose (i.e., resting one’s ankle on the opposite leg’s knee with one arm on the armrest and the other hand on the desk), and an expansive-feet-on-desk pose (i.e., leaning back in one’s chair with feet on top of the desk, hands placed behind one’s head, fingers interlocked and elbows spread out wide). The researchers found that the most powerful power posture–the one that worked best in most cultures –was the expansive-hands-spread-on-desk and expansive-upright-sitting poses. The expansive-feet-on-desk pose, on the other hand, led to greater feelings of power and implicit activation of power-related concepts for Americans, but not for East Asians. For more on which postures win the power contest, read a news release from the University of Buffalo.