How Our Body Language Affects Our Willpower

Fake it ‘till you make it.

You’ve heard that saying before. Whether from a blog, a mentor, or a friend offering advice. The saying means well. After all, when we’re going into a high pressure situation like a job interview, we may as well act like we deserve the job before we actually have it.

But does this actually work? Will faking it in an interview actually help you get the job? Or will it throw you off from your normal rhythm and just end up hurting you in the end?

There is a scientific answer to this question and it’s found by what takes place in your body when you begin to “fake it”. 


Amy Cuddy had been studying the science behind body language for some time. In her work, she learned that testosterone levels, which increase our confidence and energy, were higher in those people who were in leadership roles. Conversely, she knew that the cortisol levels, which increase our stress and anxiety, were higher in those who were in less powerful positions.

Clearly we’d all prefer to be confident and energetic rather than stressed and anxious, so Amy posed a simple question – what happens when you take a shy or timid person and have them "fake" like a powerful leader through their body language? [1]

So she invited participants into a lab and checked their testosterone and cortisol levels. She then had them assume “power poses” like the ones below.

Subjects posing in Amy Cuddy's experiment

Subjects posing in Amy Cuddy's experiment

After assuming those positions for just 2 minutes, she checked their testosterone and cortisol levels again to see if there was any change. Those who assumed the poses increased their testosterone levels by 20% while also decreasing their cortisol levels by 25%. [2]

She then ran the same experiment, but tested people assuming low power poses like the ones below. 

Subjects doing low power poses

Subjects doing low power poses

These people’s cortisol levels increased 15% and their testosterone levels decreased 10%. [2]


When most of us are waiting for a job interview, or to give a speech, we tend to hunch over, look at our phones and remain small – a textbook low-power position. From this research, we now know that this means that we’re actually increasing our level of stress and anxiety while also decreasing our level of confidence! In those high-pressure situations when we need to perform at our best, we’re hurting ourselves more than helping.

Reverse this pattern by giving yourself just 2 minutes of power posing. Whether it’s before an interview, an important sales call, or even a trip to the gym – do some power posing to get an extra boost of energy and confidence. As this research shows, just 2 minutes can make a world of difference!


We tend to believe that it’s our emotions that shape our actions. When in reality, our actions can influence our emotions just as much. When we assume the characteristics of someone brave and confident, we can literally change our physiological makeup to rise to the occasion. The next time you’re about to go into a high-pressure situation, use powerful body language to send a message to your body that you’re up for the challenge. Just 2 minutes of doing this can make all of the difference!


  1. Cuddy, Amy. "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are." Ted Talks. Edinburgh, Scotland. Speech.
  2. Cuddy, Amy. "Boost Power Through Body Language." Harvard Business Review. N.p., 6 Apr. 2011. Web.