Assuming a dominant body posture, called “power posing,” may help children feel more confident in school, according to a new German study of more than 100 fourth graders.
The findings are published in the journal School Psychology International.
Whether we’re feeling insecure, irritated, excited or confident, our body posture often gives us away. But according to the new study, it can work the opposite way as well: Standing in a confident manner may make a person feel more confident.
Research on so-called power posing looks at the extent to which a certain body posture might influence a person’s feelings and self-esteem.
In the new study, a research team of psychologists from Martin Luther University (MLU) Halle-Wittenberg and the Otto Friedrich University of Bamberg in Germany provide initial evidence showing that simple poses can help students feel better at school.
“Body language is not just about expressing feelings, it can also shape how a person feels,” said Dr. Robert Körner from the Institute of Psychology at MLU. “Power posing is the nonverbal expression of power. It involves making very bold gestures and changes in body posture.”
Until now, most of the research has revolved around studying the effects on adults. The new study is the first to look at this effect in children. “Children from the age of five are able to recognize and interpret the body posture of others,” the psychologist said.
The study involved an experiment with 108 fourth graders: One group of students was told to assume two open and expansive postures for one minute each, while the other group was instructed to pose with their arms folded in front of them and their heads down.
The students then completed a series of psychological tests. The results show that children who had performed higher power poses indicated better mood, higher self-esteem and a more positive student-teacher relationship compared to the children in the other group. The effects were particularly striking when it came to questions concerning school.
“Here, power posing had the strongest effect on the children’s self-esteem,” said Körner. “Teachers could try and see whether this method helps their students.”
However, Körner asserts that the results of the new study should not be blown out of proportion and that expectations about this technique should be kept in check. For example, the effects observed were only short-term. In addition, any serious emotional problems or mental illness must be treated by trained professionals.
The new study is consistent with earlier findings on power posing; however, the concept is still somewhat controversial in the field of psychological research. Some of the findings, which indicated effects on hormones or behavior, for example, could not be replicated. However, this is also the case for other studies in psychology and other scientific disciplines.
“To make our study even more objective and transparent, we pre-registered it and all of the methodology. This means that we specified everything in advance and could not change anything afterwards,” said Körner.
The study is published in the journal School Psychology International.
Source: PsychCentral ‘Power Posing’ May Help Students Feel More Confident