Grow taller visually

Take wide open poses

Take wide open poses

Body posture affects perception of hierarchical status.

When people expand, they are perceived as dominant. Expansion can be achieved, for example, by moving arms or legs laterally away from the body. We often see such open poses in leaders with high status and consider them taller.

Example of closed and open body posture

When people shrink and take up less space, they are perceived as submissive with low status. They have a hunchback posture, keep their limbs close to their bodies and cross them. People in closed poses appear shorter.

A man who is judged to be 6′0″ when showing high status cues might be judged to be 5′11″ when showing low status cues1

To adopt open poses, try following:

  • Place feet in medium or wide position, opening up groin area and waist.
  • Keep torso and neck straight, shoulders slightly back, and round chest.
  • Avoid crossing arms and legs too much.

Experiments have also demonstrated that actors in photographs have a larger stature in open poses when standing, as opposed to sitting.

Submissive and dominant body positions
Image. Openness of posture and dominance. From left to right / bottom to top: more submissive and dominant body positions.

However, extremely wide poses can be perceived negatively.2 For example, when they disrupt subordination. It is probably better for women to choose moderate levels of openness as well. Although signals of status are similar for both genders, effect of wide poses is weaker in women.