“Fake it Until You Make It” Really Works!

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I recently read about a study that really demonstrates the power of “fake it until you make it”.

In “Leapfrogging”, by Soren Kaplan, he cites a study jointly conducted by Columbia and Harvard Universities, in which people were placed in two groups and had electrocardiogram (ECG) electrodes placed on their chests to make them feel they were in a study about physiology. Half the group was told to position their bodies in two “high power” positions – such as kicking back one’s chair and perching one’s fee on a desk for a minute. The other half was asked to assume two submissive “low power” poses” –  such as sitting in a chair with one’s hands laying on a lap, as we did in kindergarten.  After assuming these positions,  all were given $2 and told they could keep it or risk it all by rolling dice and doubling their money with the odds of winning being 50/50. They also were given a survey to measure how powerful and in charge they felt after the experiment.

The researchers found significantly more High Power Posers gambled their money and reported feelings of power and being in charge than did the Lower Power Posers who took less risk and reported feeling less powerful. Recognizing that neuroendocrine levels don’t lie, the researchers also took saliva samples, Compared to before the study, the High Power Posers showed significant increases in testosterone (linked to power and dominance feelings) and lower levels of cortisol (a hormone tied to stress, hypertension and decreased immune function). In contrast Lower Power Posers reported the opposite results.

In other words, simply acting powerfully leads to real physical increases in the likely of acting that way. So if you’re going to make a presentation in which you’re selling yourself, an idea, product or service, psyching yourself up to feel powerful really does make a difference.  What have been your experiences? How have your efforts to feel more powerful worked for you?