If body language shapes who we are, then who are we on social media?

Power Posing, courtesy of Getty Images

Power Posing, courtesy of Getty Images

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy is all about body language and how it affects how others see us. She calls it “power posing” – standing in a posture of confidence, even we don’t feel confident – can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and may even have an impact on our chances for success.

Sociologists call this impression management (also known as reputation management) and we talked about it a little in last week’s (January 23, 2016) class. Impression management is the effort to control or influence other people’s perceptions of us. The theory goes on to say that we usually try to make these perceptions people have of us consistent with our goals. The two main reasons we have for trying to manage the impressions of others are:

  1. the instrumental motive. The meaning behind this is for the gaining of rewards. Basically, the desire for increased self-esteem.
  2. the expressive motive. The meaning behind this comes down to wanting to be in charge of one’s own personal behavior and identity.**

How does power posing and impression management change due to social media? I think we all know people on facebook or twitter that give the impression of being “in the know”; yep, they are the ones that are constantly posting political stances, or condescendingly commented on someone else’s  political stance. Their power posing becomes enhanced in the 1d world of social media. Same goes for the expressive motive behind people’s social media personals. One can literally and figuratively create a brand new persona on social  media that could be linked to your own..or be your alter ego.

The questions I leave for the group are:

1. How is “power posing” done in social media? I think online power-posing can go way behind ‘cyper-bullying’.

2. What happens when your impression management techniques fail or are so out of sync with your personal personas?

3. How closely linked should our personal and professional social media personas be?

4. Can we get the same psychological power effects from “power posing” on social media as we do in person?

*Definitions of impression management and motives are taken from http://study.com/academy/lesson/impression-management-in-sociology-theory-definition-examples.html

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2 Responses to If body language shapes who we are, then who are we on social media?

  1. sydhavely says:

    Kate–This is absolutely amazing and on point regarding impression management and self-perception. We’re doing a warp-up tonight, so please use this blog and your questions as part of that. Wonderful post. I watched all of Amy’s TED talk. It was great. Thank you for posting it.

    • katefitz2005 says:

      Thanks for the kind words. I recently went though a 2 day workshop to be certified in the Hogan Assessment tool (measure of job success and personality profile) and it was interesting to learn about impression management. Amy Cuddy is amazing.

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