Social psychologist Amy Cuddy discusses importance of confidence, body language

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Savannah Hopkinson
Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy delivers a forum address on the keys to success. (Savannah Hopkinson)

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy addressed the BYU community on simple methods for personal and professional success.

Cuddy said the key to success is being. She explained that being present requires showing confidence without arrogance, and communicating with harmony through words and body language.

“Arrogance does not win you friends, confidence does,” she said. “Confidence is about inviting people in.”

Confidence allows a person to be present, according to Cuddy. She said confidence is a tool that allows for feedback, while arrogance is a weapon that destroys feedback.

Cuddy said if someone focuses less on the impression they make on others, and more on the impression they make with themselves, they will exude more confidence. Confidence allows people to focus on how they feel, according to Cuddy. She said when people are present and confident they communicate in a way that is harmonious with their body language.

Cuddy then talked about power and how people often associate the word power with corruption or negative feelings. She said power is not a bad thing, in fact, it helps people better approach life and cultivate presence.

“When we feel powerful we feel more optimistic about ourselves and others,” Cuddy said.

When people feel powerful they are better at abstract thinking, creativity and performance on cognitive tests, according to Cuddy.

Cuddy then asked everyone in the audience to check their posture.

“The body and mind converse,” Cuddy said. “The mind doesn’t just tell the body what to do, the body tells the mind.”

Cuddy shared examples of animals that puff themselves out to show power. She talked about primates pounding their chest and elephants stretching their ears out.

She also showed an example of gymnasts, who have a power pose when they finish their routine with both arms raised above them with their chest out. She said although gymnasts have this position choreographed in, this pose can be found naturally across all humans in moments of success. Cuddy showed pictures of victorious moments from across the world, across many disciplines, to show when people feel powerful they expand.

Cuddy said if someone feels powerless, their body language will collapse, but this can be reverse engineered. She said if a person expands their body language, they will feel better. She said that even five minutes in an expanded power pose can affect someone in mood and action.

Women with eating disorders who were taught to power pose were able to eat more calories, according to Cuddy.

Cuddy said if people change their body, they then change their mind, which changes their behavior and finally changes their outcomes.

“We’re not very good at talking ourselves off the ledge, but we can walk ourselves off the ledge,” Cuddy said.

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