Psychologists are increasingly discovering that you can make yourself feel more powerful in a matter of seconds, with minimal effort required.
For example, mimicking the body language of powerful people can almost instantly boost your confidence in a range of situations, from job interviews to salary negotiations.
A few years ago, scientists released an incredible study that suggests lowering the pitch of your voice can also make you think and act like a more powerful person.
For the study, a team of researchers from the Netherlands conducted a series of experiments to test the link between voice pitch and feelings of power. In one experiment, they recruited 81 university students to either read a text out loud in a pitch three tones higher than their usual pitch, read that text out loud in a pitch three tones lower than their usual pitch, or read that text silently.
Next, the researchers asked the students to choose which words best described them from a list of trait pairs, including “submissive-dominant” and “insecure-confident.” Results showed that students who’d read the text in a lower voice were more likely to choose the more powerful traits than students in the other two groups.
In a second experiment, the researchers found that it wasn’t simply hearing a lower-pitched voice that caused the students to feel more powerful — it was the act of producing a lower-pitched voice themselves.
The third experiment showed that speaking in a lower pitch than usual also caused students to think more abstractly, meaning they focused less on the details of a situation and more on the big picture. Previous research had found that powerful people are more likely to demonstrate abstract thinking.
Of course, the researchers acknowledge that it’s unclear whether deliberately lowering your voice pitch has the same consequence, since the participants in these experiments weren’t aware of the point of the study.
Yet assuming you can in fact make yourself feel more powerful by changing your voice, this strategy could come in handy the next time you’re assigned to lead a meeting, for example.
The researchers write: “When one needs to be powerful (for instance, when being placed in a high-power role or when trying to persuade others), lowering one’s voice is sufficient to feel and think like a powerful person and may help to get the job done.”
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