The psychology world is all abuzz with what us cosplay geeks knew all along:
Striking your cosplay characters famous power pose doesn’t just make you look like a badass, it makes you biologically feel like a badass too.
This new discovery has got businessmen and politicians nationwide hiding in closets to take a moment to pose like Superman and Wonder Woman before public speaking, heading into meetings, or just to give the start of their workday some extra oomph.
It all started in 2012 when social psychologist Amy Cuddy revealed her research on Power Poses in her speech, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are”. This sparked a flurry of people – primarily in the business world – flipping out over this free, low-tech and highly effective life hack, and a frenzy of studies and reports on its effectiveness.
It’s crazy fascinating and it verifies what I’ve known all along.. the geeks have had it right from the start.
The Brain Science of Power Poses
From a neurobiological perspective, certain postures and physical movements can’t help but generate emotional discharges in the brain that represent subjective feelings associated with the action.
Intentional motor behaviors such as power posing, getting in a fighting stance or spell casting poses, directly effect the limbic and autonomic systems, both of which are involved in creating mood and emotion.
Deliberate poses that differ from your normal posture draw attention to itself in your brain, as being outside of the norm. The oddness of the new powerful, aggressive, or graceful stance attracts the attention of the amygdala, which serves as a kind of watch-dog for your brain. Although the amygdala is primarily looking for signs of opportunity and danger, the pose captures it’s attention.
Once the amygdala has a sustained focus (after you have held the pose for 30 seconds or more) the brain starts to respond by sparking a hyper-quiescent state to the same degree as it would when electrically stimulated.
Autonomic activity sets off the start of emotional response. If you continue to hold the pose (most studies recommend 2 minutes is sufficient) the resulting emotional state is augmented by the hypothalamus, which, when stimulated by the increased arousal activity, sparks positive psychological states of confidence, happiness, power, calm and control.
This may account for the “shy introverted cosplayer with an alter ego” phenomenon. Not only does the costume and persona grant a security blanket for those who would normally faint at the thought of being surrounded by hundreds of otaku paparazzi with cameras, but the power pose being held for 2+ minutes for that stream of relentless, “Just one more photo, please!” is actually giving the cosplayer a healthy boost of confidence.
Benefits of Power Posing
Striking a powerful, expansive pose doesn’t just shift your mood – it actually changes a person’s hormones and behavior, just as if you really do have the power you are projecting.
To my cosplay friends: Ever posed for cosplay photography and then had that intoxicating feeling of BEING your character? While still being firmly grounded in reality, you feel every bit the super hero, warlock, wizard, Jedi or street fighter that you’re dressed up to be?
According to Dr. Dana Carney, an assistant professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, striking a powerful pose can trick your mind into feelings of power, reduce symptoms of stress and increase testosterone levels, which tends to boost confidence.
Studies have shown that the higher levels of testosterone, like a domino effect, then lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. These physiological changes are linked to better performance and more confident, assertive behavior.
Studies also showed that subject participants who struck power poses for two minutes were more likely to take a gamble when given the chance. Some 86% of power posers risked losing $2 they were given in return for a 50-50 chance of doubling it, compared with 60% of non-posing participants who took the bet, according to the study published in the journal Psychological Science.
Power posing is also linked to improved performance. In another study published last year, led by Amy J.C. Cuddy, an associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, participants who struck power poses for several minutes before beginning a mock job interview received better reviews and were more likely to be chosen for hire.
What’s even cooler? Researchers are saying that the effects of a two minute power pose linger long after a person returns to a normal, relaxed stance. The effects of one power pose can give you a “power high” for hours afterwards!
How You Can Use Power Poses
So once again, we learn that the geeks shall inherit the Earth. We’re the badest of the bad, with high profile business shmucks stumbling all over themselves to do in private what we proudly do publicly at the local Comic Con. (Or Ihop. Or shopping mall. Or public park. Or wherever, really.)
But harnessing the power of Wonder Woman doesn’t have to come but once a convention. You can add power posing to any daily routine, or find a moment to try harnessing this power before entering a new situation, approaching an uncomfortable task, or meeting new people.
I’ve taken to adding a few poses – namely, the Wonder Woman and an Up Up and Away pose – to my morning stretching routine. Not only does it stretch out muscles and help wake me up, but it gives me a moment to focus on my breathing, clear my thoughts and revel in feeling like the badass that I am.
Have you cosplayed before and experienced the power posing high? Do you plan on giving power posing outside of cosplay a try? Talk to me! ^_^
Cosplay and Cosplay Photography Credits:
Wonder Woman cosplay made and modeled by Pink Bunny. Photography by cosplayshots.com.
Lady Sif cosplay made and modeled by Domestic Geek Girl. (That’s me!) Photography by my handsome husband. (See the full photoshoot here.)
Fem Jane cosplay by Christina Tellifson. Photography by Eurobeat Kasumi Photography.
Jack Sparrow cosplay by Darth Sparrow. Photography by Domestic Geek Girl. (See the full photoshoot here.)
Yuna Braska Cosplay by Neeka Cosplay. Photography by Domestic Geek Girl.