Presence (Cuddy)

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges
Amy Cuddy, 2015
Little, Brown & Co.
352 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780316256575

Have you ever left a nerve-racking challenge and immediately wished for a do over?

Maybe after a job interview, a performance, or a difficult conversation? The very moments that require us to be genuine and commanding can instead cause us to feel phony and powerless. Too often we approach our lives' biggest hurdles with dread, execute them with anxiety, and leave them with regret.

By accessing our personal power, we can achieve "presence," the state in which we stop worrying about the impression we're making on others and instead adjust the impression we've been making on ourselves.

As Harvard professor Amy Cuddy's revolutionary book reveals, we don't need to embark on a grand spiritual quest or complete an inner transformation to harness the power of presence. Instead, we need to nudge ourselves, moment by moment, by tweaking our body language, behavior, and mind-set in our day-to-day lives.

Amy Cuddy has galvanized tens of millions of viewers around the world with her TED talk about "power poses." Now she presents the enthralling science underlying these and many other fascinating body-mind effects, and teaches us how to use simple techniques to liberate ourselves from fear in high-pressure moments, perform at our best, and connect with and empower others to do the same.

Brilliantly researched, impassioned, and accessible, Presence is filled with stories of individuals who learned how to flourish during the stressful moments that once terrified them. Every reader will learn how to approach their biggest challenges with confidence instead of dread, and to leave them with satisfaction instead of regret. (From the publisher.)

See Amy Cuddy's TED talk.

Author Bio
Birth—July 27, 1972
Where—Robesonia, Pennsylvania, USA
Education—B.A., University of Colorado; M.A., Ph.D., Princeton University
Awards—(see below)
Currently—lives in

Amy Joy Casselberry Cuddy is an American social psychologist known for her research on stereotyping and discrimination, emotions, power, nonverbal behavior, and the effects of social stimuli on hormone levels. She is an Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

Cuddy speaks about the psychology of power, influence, nonverbal communication, and prejudice. Her TED talk, delivered in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2012, has been viewed more than 27 million times and ranks second among the most-viewed TED talks.

Personal backgrond
Cuddy grew up in a very small Pennsylvania Dutch town, Robesonia, Pennsylvania. She is a classically trained ballet dancer and worked as a roller-skating waitress when she was an undergraduate at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

When she was a sophomore in college she sustained a serious head injury in a car accident. Her doctors told her she was not likely to fully recover and should anticipate significant challenges finishing her undergraduate degree. Her IQ fell temporarily by two standard deviations, which is about 30 points in IQ test.

She eventually completed her undergraduate studies, earning a B.A. degree in Social Pschology at the University of Colorado. She continued her studies in Social Psychology at Princeton, attaining both her M.A. and Ph.D.

Cuddy has often tweeted of her love for live music, and spent a number of seasons following the Grateful Dead. She has one son. In August 2014, in Aspen, Colorado, she married Paul Coster.

Prior to joining Harvard Business School, Cuddy was an Assistant Professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where she taught leadership in organizations in the MBA program and research methods in the doctoral program. She was also an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University, where she taught undergraduate social psychology. At Harvard Business School, she has taught MBA courses on negotiation, and power and influence, as well as executive education courses.

Cuddy studies the origins and outcomes of how people judge and influence each other. She has done experimental and correlational research on stereotyping and discrimination (e.g., against Asian Americans, elderly people, Latinos, working mothers), the causes and consequences of feeling ambivalent emotions (e.g., envy and pity), nonverbal behavior and communication, and hormonal responses to social stimuli.

Along with Susan Fiske and Peter Glick (Lawrence University), Cuddy developed the Stereotype Content Model (SCM) and the Behaviors from Intergroup Affect and Stereotypes (BIAS) Map. These are used to make judgments of other people and groups within two core trait dimensions, warmth and competence, and to discern how these judgments shape and motivate our social emotions, intentions, and behaviors. [10] This work has been cited over 9000 times.
Power posing

Cuddy carried out an experiment with Dana Carney and Andy Yap (UC-Berkeley) on how nonverbal expressions of power (i.e., expansive, open, space-occupying postures) affect people’s feelings, behaviors, and hormone levels.

In particular, they claimed that adopting body postures associated with dominance and power (“power posing”) for as little as two minutes can increase testosterone, decrease cortisol, increase appetite for risk, and cause better performance in job interviews. This was widely reported in popular media. New York Times columnist David Brooks summarized the findings, “If you act powerfully, you will begin to think powerfully.”

This and related research has been published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Psychological Science, Research in Organizational Behavior, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, and Science.

In 2014, Eva Ranehill and other researchers tried to replicate this experiment with a larger group of participants and a double-blind setup. Ranehill et al. found that power posing increased subjective feelings of power, but did not affect hormones or actual risk tolerance. They published their results in Psychological Science.

Carney, Cuddy, & Yap responded in the same issue of Psychological Science, with an overview of 33 published studies related to power posing, including the Ranehill et al. study. Almost all had reported significant effects of some kind. The overview noted methodological differences between their 2010 study and the Ranehill replication, which may have moderated the effects of posing.

Two statistics researchers at the Wharton School, Simmons & Simonsohn, later shared a meta-analysis of the same 33 studies on their statistics blog. Based on the distribution of p-values reported across the studies (the 'p-curve'), they concluded that studies so far have demonstrated little to no average effect of power posing. This remains a point of contention among other researchers[citation needed].

Awards and honors
2014 - World Economic Forum Young Global Leader
2012 - TEDGlobal Speaker
2013 - Time magazine "Game Changer"
2011 - Rising Star Award, Association for Psychological Science (APS)
2010 - Psychology Today, The Top 10 Psychology Studies of 2010
2010 - Cover story, Harvard Magazine, Nov-Dec, 2010
2009 - The HBR List: Breakthrough Ideas for 2009, Harvard Business Review

(Author bio adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 12/14/2015.)

Book Reviews
Cuddy is very sharp in her analysis of...affirmation; body language; how to nudge yourself along via incremental changes.... [But] Cuddy falls back too often on the unchallenged insights of  “a widely recognized expert” as well as unhelpful diagnostic questions—e.g., “What three words best describe you as an individual?”
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also, consider these LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for Presence:

1. Define the term "presence" as it's used by Amy Cuddy. Do you people in your life who have presence as the book describes it?

2. What does it mean to build your sense of personal power without a sense of arrogance? How does increasing your power help you be your better self?

3. What situations in your own life might you envision using (or having used) the lessons spelled out in Presence? Have you tried her power stance yet?

4. Talk about one of the central premises of this book—how mind and body work together to affect who we are and how we're perceived? What are the ways in which the body affects the mind.

5. Criticism of Cuddy's work has been leveled by other scientists, who haven't yet attained the same results in their experiments as Cuddy and her associates have. (See Amy Cuddy's bio above). Do a bit more research on her critics and discuss your own findings, whether they're legitimate or not.

6. What is the most striking, insightful, or powerful piece of information you came across in reading Amy Cuddy's book?

(We'll add specific questions if and when they're made available by the publisher.)

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