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Brighter Outlook, with Kevin Simpson, chartered clinical psychologist and partner at Outlook South West

By West Briton  |  Posted: August 28, 2014

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RECENT research seems to suggest that not only do other people respond to our non-verbal behaviour, but it also changes our own behaviour.

In a fascinating study by Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy, people were asked to stand in 'high power' poses or 'low power' poses for two minutes.

So, what is a 'high power' pose? Basically, high power poses involve making you appear bigger and wider.

So, standing with your feet slightly apart, with chin raised and hands on hips, is a 'high power' pose.

Whereas, sitting hunched up in a chair is a 'low power' pose.

Cuddy found that after just two minutes of 'high power' posing, people had 20 per cent higher levels of testosterone (the 'dominance' hormone) and 25 per cent lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).

In a separate study, people were asked to do these poses while waiting for an interview.

The results showed that people preparing with high power poses were seen as more capable and more likely to be hired by the interviewers.

The interviewers hadn't seen the subjects behaving any differently in the interview.

But preparing with 'poses' before the interview had somehow primed the interviewees to present differently.

These kinds of studies may appear a little unbelievable.

But, as Cuddy says: "This isn't about what your body language is communicating to others; it's about what your body language is communicating to you: your body language is changing your mind, which changes your behaviour, which changes your outcomes."

Studies looking at body posture and depression are also starting to show this connection.

So, stand up straight, like your grandparents told you.

It seems there are some easy tweaks we can make to our posture that can make a significant difference to how we feel.

■ For NHS-funded therapy for stress, anxiety or depression, phone (01208) 871905 or contact help@outlooksw.co.uk

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