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Standing Like Superman Makes You Feel Like Superman

No matter what superhero you vibe with the most, new research reveals there are a number of mental health benefits to maintaining a posture that’s fit for a cape

If you’re enduring a crisis of confidence, allow me to pose a rather annoying question: Have you tried carrying yourself more like a superhero?

Recent findings published in the journal Psychological Bulletin confirm that people who stand in ways that are larger and more expansive might feel more secure as a result. “A dominant pose can, for example, make you feel more self-confident,” Astrid Schütz, study co-author and personality researcher, explained in a press release

This idea of “power posing” isn’t entirely new, as it was popularized by social psychologist Amy Cuddy after a viral TED Talk in 2012. But back then, the concept was mostly reserved for Girl Boss types in shampoo commercials looking to show off their wing spans.

To officially determine whether or not standing like Superman or Wonder Woman could really ever benefit anyone, Schütz, her co-author Robert Körner and their team analyzed a total of 88 studies on the subject, as well as unpublished data, which included nearly 9,779 men and women. Overall, they examined whether posture influenced a person’s behavior, hormone levels and self-perception. 

Results confirmed the previously established link between power posing and improved self-perception. Likewise, power poses were associated with being more persistent and focused on a task. “Engaging in poses or postures may benefit the individual,” the study authors concluded. “Our results suggest that effects of body positions are largely independent of context and also some individual differences,” such as age and gender. “This may be relevant to practitioners who want to include bodily interventions in therapy, training or coaching.”

As for the poses that were most effective, the victory power pose with outstretched arms like the letter T, as well as placing your hands on your waist and puffing your chest out like Superman or Wonder Woman, were mentioned as good places to start. That said, Schütz was sure to point out that “the findings on the physiological effects of power posing” — i.e., that it can boost testosterone and hormones — “are not robust and have not been replicated by independent research groups.” 

In other words, standing like a giant T isn’t going to do anything for your actual T, but it might move the needle a bit in terms of self-esteem. I mean, just look at what it did for Clark Kent.