Posted by: mollywelsh13 | February 17, 2016

Self Confidence and Decision Making

Hey everyone,

All of this talk about nonverbal communication is really exciting to me. I am planning on becoming a therapist and body language is something that is almost as essential in communication as the actual conversation. I don’t know if any of you have had the chance to watch the Ted talk that Dr. Shollen posted on scholar, but if you can make the time you should absolutely watch it.

In case you don’t get the time, I’ll give you a little outline. The speaker, Amy Cuddy, is a social psychologist who studies body language. Specifically body language associated with power. She explains that our body language, primarily posture, can actually affect our behaviors. This includes our confidence, authenticity, and presence, all characteristics associated with leadership.

There are clear differences, as Amy Cullen notes, between the body language of women and of men. Women often hunch, do not take up much space, and take more submissive poses than men. Men on the other hand, typically take up as much space as possible and throw their shoulders back clearly portraying dominance. She explains that even if you “fake” these power poses and postures, it can increase your self-confidence.  I am wondering how these differences, your perception of your own power, can affect decision making.

Often people in business (I’m certainly not one of them so correct me if I’m wrong) consider some extent of risk-taking necessary in creating an innovative and successful business. As we’ve seen in class, women tend to be far more cautious and less willing to take risks. Men are also more likely to gamble than women. Amy Cullen found that when you feel more self confident, you are more likely to gamble (you feel like you are going to win even in games of chance).

Are men more likely to gamble because they are more self confident? Or do you think there are other reasons? Do you think risk-taking is essential to leadership? Are there other factors in play between the male-power-risk-taking dynamic?

I realized that these submissive stances are like a form of mitigating speech. Like Sheryl Sandberg talked about, sometimes women feel out of place, like they shouldn’t even be sitting “at the table”. Mitigating speech is like this. It is the opposite of asserting dominance and putting value on your opinions.

So “lean in”, don’t apologize for your opinions, and fake it until you become it (you’ll get that reference if you watch the video).




  1. I am also fascinated by the non-verbal communication stuff we’ve talked about. And I notice for me, it is very context dependent on how I sit or hold myself. Generally, like the research shows, when I am more confident in a situation, I sit “bigger” or more typically “masculine.” When I am not confident (or cold, which is the case a lot of the times), I sit with my legs crossed, somewhat hunched, head down, like is typically “feminine.” And I think how we hold ourselves definitely plays a factor in how confident we are and the decisions we make because of the confidence levels we have. I think anyone who is more self-confident will be more inclined to take risks, regardless of gender. Since generally, men are prescribed by the green blob of society as being smarter and superior to women, it makes sense why women would not feel as confident as men to make decisions and stick by them and be confident about them.

  2. I was inspired by the Ted Talk from Amy Cullen. The idea of body language an the link with power is so interesting to me. I have not tried out the “power postures” yet but I cannot wait for a situation to do so. I think that taking risks can be linked to leadership in the sense that having confidence could make one more comfortable taking risks, but can’t low confidence also drive a person to engage in risk taking? If you have low confidence and a low sense of power, I would imagine that one could feel as though their decisions do not have an effect on outcomes anyway so they would be less hesitant to make them.

  3. Ever since I watched the Ted Talk I have been experimenting with this idea of “Power Posture.” I’ve been consciously walking straight upright with a more rigid power stance, and then switching to a more low shouldered hunched stance to see how different I felt. When i walked into a room with this described power stance I felt like all eyes were on me, but I liked it. I felt like everyone knew I was having a good day and I was meant to be where I was. But when I walked around hunch over and low everyone kept asking me if I was okay or sad. Therefore I wonder if it isn’t your own perception of how your posture or body language is that affects your power, but other peoples interpretation of you from your stance.

  4. This video is so cool, glad to have watched it. What gets me is that if you think about it, these ideas are common sense, but they are the kind of thing you know but don’t do anything about. I remember learning about crossing your arms and legs when you feel attacked or have a need to defend yourself. I always enjoy looking around class and observing these behaviors and then observe their participation and interaction with class. It’s true though, I naturally go to many of those high power positions almost naturally. Then, when it comes to a bad day or something negative has taken place, I will sink down in my chair, cross my arms, and always make myself smaller. With all of this in mind, it would be cool to use this to help women feel more powerful. Is this a natural process or are we artificially creating power through this “fake it till you become it” technique?

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