“I literally watch M.B.A. students adjust their posture as I’m telling them about the findings,” Cuddy told LiveScience. Many later reported positive results from job interviews, meetings and other situations. “It’s some of the most satisfying research I have done,” she said.

In the study, researchers randomly assigned 42 participants, 26 of them women, to assume and hold a pair of either low- or high-power poses. The high-power posers spent one minute sitting in a chair in front of a desk, with feet resting on it and hands clasped behind the head, and, in the other pose, they stood, leaning forward over a table, with arms out and hands resting on the table. In both poses, the participants took up space, an expression of power not unique to the human world. For example, peacocks fan their tails to attract a mate and chimpanzees bulge their chests to assert their hierarchical rank, the researchers noted.

“These power poses are deeply intertwined with the evolutionary selection of what is ‘alpha,'” wrote the researchers in the September issue of the journal Psychological Science.