We’ve talked before about the ways your posture affects what other people think about you.  Here is how the way you sit and stand changes the way you feel about yourself:

•    According to a Harvard University study, our posture controls how powerful we feel. For example, striking a “superhero pose” – with hands on hips, and legs shoulder-width wide – lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which makes you more relaxed and at ease.

•    Strong, confident posture also boosts production of the hormone testosterone, which increases focus, confidence, and feelings of self-esteem. That’s why researchers say that good posture is essential for getting us through tough events like job interviews and giving speeches.

•    But power poses also have a darker, brooding side – just like most superheroes. Researchers at Columbia University found that take-command postures that allow us to take up a lot of space - like puffing out your chest, or sitting with your feet on your desk - increase the chances you’ll behave dishonestly. That’s because the testosterone-generated self-importance makes us think that the rules don’t apply to us.    

•    Even worse, spreading out your arms and legs to take up more space in your car can be deadly. The researchers found that “spreaders” felt so confident and powerful behind the wheel that they tended to drive recklessly. And were more likely to be involved in “hit and run accidents.”

What’s this mean to you? Being aware of your posture will help you manage the effect it has on your behavior. In other words, striking a superhero pose before a presentation is a good thing. Because you know it’ll make you feel more confident. But if you want to be a safe driver, you need to dial down the confidence. Maybe by sitting more compactly in your car and moving your seat a notch closer to the steering wheel.