Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy saw her now-husband for the first time on Facebook.
She noticed his photo, she said in a recent talk at the 92Y in New York City, because he was positioned “in the most extreme ‘power pose’ imaginable.”
‘Power pose’ is a term that Cuddy coined in her 2012 TED Talk, and it describes an expansive posture that can make you feel more powerful and confident.
Cuddy said her first thought on seeing her husband that way was, “What a jerk!” And second: “He must have a good sense of humor.”
That Cuddy was drawn to her husband because of his body language isn’t as unusual as it sounds. Research suggests that we’re more attracted to people in expansive — as opposed to contracted — postures, even if we don’t consciously realize it.
A 2016 study tested this phenomenon in two settings: speed dating and online dating.
In the speed-dating experiment, experimenters filmed 144 speed dates, and reviewed them looking specifically at whether people sat still or waved their hands and arms a lot. They asked each person to indicate how attractive they found their partner and whether they’d like to see their partner again.
Sure enough, people who took up a lot of space with their bodies were rated more attractive.