Tag Archives: Li Huang

Expansive Body Language Decreases Power for Some

Lora E Park Bunting

Lora E Park Bunting

Expansive body postures and feelings of power are related for some cultures, but not all, according to SUNY’s Lora E. Park Bunting and Lindsey Streamer with Li Huang of INSEAD and Columbia’s Adam D. Galinsky.

Lindsey Streamer

Lindsey Streamer

They built on much-cited work by Columbia’s Dana R. Carney and Andy J. Yap with Amy J.C. Cuddy of Harvard, demonstrating the posture-power connection, by evaluating three expansive postures among Americans and East Asians:

  • Hands spread on a desk
  • Upright sitting
  • Feet on a desk
Li Huang

Li Huang

Park and team demonstrated that “embodied emotion” depends on the posture and its symbolic meaning within the prevailing cultural context.

Adam Galinsky

Adam Galinsky

Both Americans and East Asians rated the feet-on-desk pose as least consistent with East Asian cultural norms of modesty, humility, and restraint.
In contrast, when Americans assumed this posture, they experienced greater power activation and action orientation.

This effect was reversed for East Asians when they demonstrated the feet-on-desk pose:  They showed less power activation and action orientation than Americans in this position.

However, when Americans and East Asians assumed hands-spread-on-desk and upright-sitting postures, they reported a greater sense of power than when they held a constricted posture (sitting with hands tucked underneath their thighs).

Albert Mehrabian

Albert Mehrabian

Changes in a person’s mood, emotion, and feelings expressed by changes in body posture was first demonstrated by Albert Mehrabian and John T. Friar of UCLA.

They asked nearly 50 volunteers to sit as they would in addressing another person in a variety of imagined scenarios.

Mehrabian and Friar considered relationships between Communicator attitude and gender as well as Addressee status and gender in relation to eye contact, interpersonal distance, head orientation, shoulder orientation, leg orientation, arm openness, leg openness, and hand, foot, and trunk relaxation.

Positive attitude was demonstrated by a slight backward lean of the torso, close distance, and greater eye contact.
When communicating with “high status” individuals, Communicators provided more eye contact and less sideways leaning.
Female Communicators used a more constrained posture with less arm openness when communicating with “higher status” individuals.

Dana Carney

Dana Carney

Carney and team demonstrated that these postural changes elicit measurable neuroendocrine changes.
When people in the U.S. assumed in high-power nonverbal displays, their  testosterone increased, their cortisol decreased and they reported increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk.

Andy Yap

Andy Yap

University of Florida’s Andrea Kleinsmith, P. Ravindra De Silva at Toyohashi University of Technology and University College London’s Nadia Bianchi-Berthouze demonstrated these cross-cultural differences in perceiving emotion and subjective experience from body posture.

Andrea Kleinsmith

Andrea Kleinsmith

Kleinsmith and team used static posture images of affectively expressive avatars or “embodied agents” to test emotion recognition by volunteers from three cultures. From these findings, they developed cultural models for affective posture recognition.

Andrea Kleinsmith-avatarsThese results suggest both the impact of changing body postures to elicit different feeling states, and caveats when adopting expansive postures to activate power while interacting across cultural groups.

Ravindra De Silva

Ravindra De Silva

Encouragement to “Think Big, Play Big” may require specific recommendations for culturally appropriate action.

-*How do you demonstrate power when interacting with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds?

Nadia Bianchi-Berthouze

Nadia Bianchi-Berthouze

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Increase Feelings of Power by Listening to Music with Strong Bass Beat

Dennis Hsu

Dennis Hsu

Listening to music with specific emotional qualities has been associated with productivity, performance, creative problem solving, endurance, decreased pain sensitivity, and decision biases, outlined in previous blog posts.

Loran Nordgren

Loran Nordgren

Subjective power feelings are an additional outcome of listening to music with substantial bass beat, reported Northwestern University’s Dennis Y. Hsu, Loran F. Nordgren, Derek D. Rucker, Li Huang, and Columbia’s Adam D. Galinsky.

Derek D. Rucker

Derek D. Rucker

Hsu’s team found that power-inducing music produced enhanced:

  • Abstract thinking
  • Illusions of control
  • Willingness to volunteer first for a potentially stressful task.
Li Huang

Li Huang

Subjective feelings of power are important contributors to workplace performance because they associated with confidence and self-efficacy, which influence willingness to persist in accomplishing challenging tasks.

Adam Galinsky

Adam Galinsky

More than 75 volunteers listened to an original, two-minute instrumental composition with either a prominent bass line or a subdued bass element in Team Hsu’s investigation.
Participants rated their feelings of power, dominance and determination along with their sense of happiness, excitement, and enthusiasm.

Pamela K. Smith

Pamela K. Smith

People who listened to the heavy-bass music said they experienced greater feelings of power than those who listened to the more subdued variation, but the increased bass element did not affect feelings of happiness or excitement.
Those who heard the composition with prominent bass elements also produced more power-related terms in a word-completion test.

Daniël Wigboldus

Daniël Wigboldus

Likewise, those who heard familiar “high-power music” such as Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” volunteered to be the first participants in a debate competition and scored higher on a test measuring abstract thinking, compared with people who listened to widely-known “low-power music” like “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

Ap Dijksterhuis

Ap Dijksterhuis

Feeling powerful is more important than actually possessing power in achieving superior performance, confirmed by University of California San Diego’s Pamela K. Smith with Daniël H.J. Wigboldus of Radboud University Nijmegen, and University of Amsterdam’s Ap Dijksterhuisc.
They reported this well-validated finding and expanded Smith’s previous report, with NYU’s Yaacov Trope, that people’s subjective sense of power is partly determined by individual information processing style.

Yaacov Trope

Yaacov Trope

Smith’s team found that people who demonstrated abstract thought reported greater sense of power, greater preference for high-power roles, and more feelings of control over the environment, compared with people who were primed to use concrete thinking.

Subjective feelings of power can be enhanced by listening to music with a prominent bass element, in addition to writing “power primes” and assuming expansive body postures.

-*How do you increase your personal experience of power?

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Power of “Powerless” Speech, but not Powerless Posture

Assertive speech is assumed to signal competence and power, pre-requisites to status, power, and leadership in the U.S. workplace.

Alison Fragale

Alison Fragale

However, University of North Carolina’s Alison Fragale demonstrated that warmth trumps competence in collaborative team work groups.

Fragale studied “powerless speech,” which has been believed to make a person seem tentative, uncertain, and less likely to be promoted to expanded workplace roles.
She defined “powerless speech” as including:

  • Hesitation: “Well” or “Um”, as known as “clutter words”
  • Tag questions: “Don’t you think?”
  • Hedges: “Sort of” or “Maybe”
  • Disclaimers: “This may be a bad idea, but … “
  • Formal addresses:“Yes, sir” or “Yes, ma’am”

In collaboration-based work teams, “powerless” speech characteristics are significantly associated with being promoted, gaining status and power.
Interpersonal warmth and effective team skills are valued more than dominance and ambition by team members and those selecting leaders for these teams.

Paul Hersey

Paul Hersey

In contrast, “powerful” speech does not feature these characteristics, is more effective when the task or group is independent and people are expected to work alone.

Ken Blanchard

Ken Blanchard

As in Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership, Fragale concludes that communication style should be tailored to group characteristics.

Li Huang

Li Huang

Likewise, INSEAD’s Li Huang  and Columbia’s Adam Galinsky with Stanford’s Deborah Gruenfeld and Lucia Guillory of Northwestern University demonstrated the impact of “powerful” body language – also called “playing big” –  on perceived power.

Adam Galinsky

Adam Galinsky

Although assuming “larger” postures is associated with credibility and authority, some situations benefit from assuming “smaller”, less powerful postures to establish warmth or to acknowledge another’s higher status.

Lucia Guillory

Lucia Guillory

As noted in an earlier post, Women Get More Promotions With “Behavioral Flexibility”, careful self-observation and behavioral flexibility based on situational requirements are effective foundations to establish group leadership.

-*How do you monitor and adapt “powerless” speech to work situations?

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