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Carmen Eugenia Guevara

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What is the impact of Amy Cuddy's body language practice, in cognitive terms?

The part of how the posture can stimulate hormones and make you behave in a most efficient way, I get it. But I feel as if we are missing what happens in between, in terms of thoughts.

If the posture generates chemical changes in terms of hormones, how does this relate to (or happen as the same time as) the mind-change here? Does cognitive disonnace occur between the thought "I am not sure I can do this" and the thought "I am perfectly capable of doing this"? Does one thought supress the other or just makes it less powerful for a few moments?

Thanks in advance for your comments, I am a psychologist and I find the idea of "fake it till you become it" absolutely wonderful, which is why I'd love to understand better the whole mental process that allows this to happen.

Topics: science
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    Gail . 50+

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    Oct 13 2012: You said:, "But I feel as if we are missing what happens in between, in terms of thoughts"

    You can easily answer that yourself. Look at your posture right this minute. Are your shoulders slumped forward or are they back and upright? Consider your face. Are you smiling or not?

    Suddenly, assume absolutely perfect posture and put a smile on your face. Become aware of INTERNAL changes as they transpire within the next half-minute. There is your answer.
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      Oct 15 2012: I made the posture change and certainly I noticed the internal changes... As Rodolfo mentioned in this same conversation, awarness is a key word. Thanks for your comment!
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        Gail . 50+

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        Oct 15 2012: Self-awareness is the key to a fascinating and rewarding life. Those growing numbers of people around the world who refer to themselves as being "awakened" are simply aware of internal processes that they had been ignoring most of their lives. Those internal conversations are your POWER, and you are powerful indeed, as Amy Cuddy begins to show.
        • Oct 17 2012: Thenk you very much TED Lover.
          It is amazing that for weeks and weeks I was trying to understand what was that, what made some people behae they behave. You point so clever, I just bumped into in and just hit the right spot. Such a wonderful statement, Self-awareness is the key to a fascinating and rewarding life!
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    Oct 16 2012: Carmen,
    That is a good question. I am a psychologist too and I left my Bachelor thinking the same. And now as a Dance/Movement Therapist (DMT) I think I can manage to think about the links between body &mind.
    TED Lover has answered part of your question, showing you your implicit knowledge about it, but I would go further with theoretical constructs.
    First thing, concerning developmental theories: When a child is learning to talk, she/he does it with his/her body. We all had learnt that way. There is no other way of learning to communicate whiteout using our body. We also learn to describe our thoughts by listening to what our caretakers observe from us. "Are you happy"? "Don't be afraid"...
    The second thing, which is related to this, is the notion of "implicit knowledge", which is a kind of knowledge that complements the verbal/cognitive knowledge. Daniel N. Stern talks about that in his book "The Present Moment in Psychotherapy".
    Also, in the neuropsychology field, there are many discussions. First, there is the kind of attention that both our hemispheres put in the reality -I recommend another TED Talk in this topic, by McGilchrist (2011, The divided Brain). Then, the work of Varela about enactive approach to perception and learning, and the research about mirror neurons by Gallese.
    In the DMT field there are a lot of works that try to research the relations between movement, hemispheres /mirror neurons/ enactive approaches and self-evaluation. The American Association (ADTA) has a Journal with excellent articles.
    For you I recommend the Doctoral Thesis of Diana Fischman about empathy, which is in Spanish and you can access online. Just search for ‘Diana Fischman Empatía’ in Google.
    It is a huge, complex and inspiring field! Welcome!
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      Oct 18 2012: Hello colleague! Yes, it is definitely a complex field! but it would't be a challenge otherwise, thanks a lot for the recommendations, I'll look for the talk about the divided brain and the thesis by D. Fischman.
      Thank you for your comment!
  • Oct 15 2012: I think it's pretty interesting question,Carmen. And I love her talk, too.

    Btw, aside from your question, I just want to ask..
    When actors and actresses play their own characters, does this idea have to do with their actions?
    I mean, for them, it's almost temporary thing.
    For us, if we just fail to fake it till we become it, but instead, just fake it till we make it, what's the difference between actors and us?
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      Oct 18 2012: I guess if we just fake it till we make it, but not until we become it, then maybe we would be a little bit like "impostors", actors playing briefly a role but for a good cause, right? at least to have a temporary accomplishment, someone insecure could act as an assertive and confident person and succeed at something.
      Even so, I think that no one wants to feel like an actor. I think what Amy really meant is that this faking is kind of "taking the chance to believe that we are able to do it" (... because after all, maybe we ARE able).
      Thanks for yor comment!
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      Oct 19 2012: Elizabeth and Carmen,
      As a former actor, I suggest that we are actors, and actors are "us"...actors are people who can get in touch with various emotions and body language to project those emotions.

      I found that while playing a certain "type" of character for a period of time, I sometimes began adopting the look and body language of the character. When playing an elderly person for the two week run of the play, for example, I sometimes began to feel less energetic, when I looked in the mirror, I felt that I was older, etc. When playing the role of a younger, energetic person, I often felt younger and more energetic even when off the stage. So, I would guess that depending on how much we use this practice, determines how much it changes the chemistry in our body/mind.

      I also believe it depends on several levels of our own consciousness. For example, one time I was injured while sailboat racing in the daytime, and had a performance in the evening. On the way to the theater, I was in quite a bit of pain. During warmups (hair, makeup, costume, physical and vocal warmups, etc.) the pain started to subside and I sang, danced and acted a leading role in the musical production. There was no pain....I WAS the character, and the character had not been sailboat racing that afternoon.

      After the performance, the pain returned, so the next day I had it checked out....I had 4 cracked ribs. I continued the performance for two weeks, resting, heat, ice in the day, and performing without pain in the evening. This is not something that everyone can expect to do right away....I had lots of practice (faking it) before this situation:>)
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    Oct 19 2012: I think:
    By common sense:

    Our brain is evolved from our body inseparably, and thus they have to inseparably work together.

    So, the body and brain have to change synchronically.
    That is, to change the posture will simultaneously change the brain.

    Wrong?
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      Oct 19 2012: Yes, as I mentioned previously I do understand the impact that posture has on hormones as testosterone and cortisol, but my doubt was more directly related to the cognitive process that happens as a result of this chemical change. To be more precise, in terms of thoughts and cognitive dissonace. Sure thing, thoughts are modified too as result of posture change, but I still wonder how exactly this happens.. very interesting topic! thanks for your comment.
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    Oct 19 2012: personal choice has nothing to do with body language. if you are a flight person and you stand in a certain position, no matter what your body is saying to the other person you are still going to flight. Body language is for the observer not the self. Now if you are in a situation were you are not comfortable body language might help with the chemical uptake. And give you more confidence in that specific situation. Body might represent the mind, but the mind does not represent the body
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      Oct 19 2012: I think that body language can be, indeed, observed by others, but we can become aware of our own body language and as a result, induct changes in it. Since it's all connected, I also think (and that's the core argument of Amy Cuddy's talk) that these posture changes do have an impact at other levels, for example our attitude at the moment we practice that change. I think it goes both ways, and as some already mentioned in this conversation, maybe the key word here is "awarness", being capable of observing ourselves. Thanks a lot for your comment!
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        Oct 19 2012: Never in the history of me taking to someone, when I crossed my arms did that mean I was not engaged in the conversation.

        Confidence does not come from body language, its a choice
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          Oct 19 2012: Casey,
          I agree with you that confidence is a choice, and don't you think that how we move and position the body facilitates the flow of energy, and may influence our choice?
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        Oct 19 2012: Sure, about energy flow, but even then it could be screaming at them to jump, but it still takes the mind to grab that choice and run with it.
  • Oct 17 2012: I love the talk, and I love your question/
    It is such an awesome thing is that we can understand and regulate our body. Well by regulating it, we also change the hormones in it. IS not that amazing or terrifying fact for us? I believe almost everybody should see t in practice then coe back to TED and share their experiences.
    Best,
    Andrey
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      Oct 18 2012: I agree, and the wonderful thing is that it goes both ways. Thoughts and emotions can reflect on posture but also can be influenced by posture, I also thought it was a wonderful talk, also Amy's testimony is just absolutely moving. Thanks for your comment, Andrey.
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    Oct 15 2012: My layman´s opinion is that one has to be cautious with the concept. I think that what may really make a difference is awareness of our body and attitudes; the constant practice of awareness may produce changes. But just the faking should make no difference, we all meet everyday empty people who care only about their looks, their clothes, etc
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      Oct 15 2012: I agree, awareness of posture may have a deeper impact in the long term, with constant practice. But it still it's interesting that a very short-term posture change can produce such positive changes as Amy Cuddy described. Thank you for your comment!
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      Oct 15 2012: Thank you Ed for that suggestion, I would like to read the issue of the magazine New Yorker, but I can only access it online (I live in Central America), has that issue been published in the internet? Thanks a lot!