This paper by James Detert and Ethan Burris in Harvard Business Review has an interesting take on something that has been in the news a lot lately (and even a TED talk). The topic is “power posing” and the basic message is that if you adopt a power pose you exert a wide range of influences. It creates an internal frame by making you more confident in yourself. Even if you can’t see yourself in the pose, you know you are doing it.
Studies on power posing show that intentionally adjusting your body posture, facial expressions, and voice can help you express your ideas and concerns and win greater influence. This is true no matter what title or position you hold. Simply comporting yourself as if you’re a rung or two higher makes people act more deferentially toward you. Often, they’re not fully aware that they’re responding this way, yet the effect is in full force in any kind of hierarchy, whether it’s based on formal or informal status.
It seems that when it comes to economic decision making theorists, there are objectivists who say that we are governed primarily by innate tendencies that define all human (and possibly chimpanzee behavior and there are relativists who say that every culture is different and there is no way to predict the behavior of one culture using data from another.
I would take the middle position. Culture explains a moderate amount of the variability in economic decisions. Universal attributes explain another moderate amount. There is also a huge interaction between them, probably explaining more than both of the main effects combined. And that is where it gets interesting.
As the weather starts (finally) to turn into real summer sun, we hope to shift into vacation mode here at EID as well. No, don’t worry that we will not be taking extended absences. But we will be digging up some more light reading for your beach reading pleasure.
With that in mind, I dug up a review article from last October on group identity. To establish a group identity, there are two components. First, you need to convince yourself that you belong to the group. That is a great source of self-delusion, but a topic for another day. The second is that you need to demonstrate some of the attributes of the group to others to convince them that you belong. This includes showing members of the group so that you are accepted and showing non-members of the group to show them that you are different. The review article covers this second component, specifically with regard to the logos that we wear on our shirts.
I think it is a very useful practice to introduce new words into the lexicon that either describe concepts that didn’t previously exist (because of changes in technology or culture) or that streamline the discussion of concepts that were hard to describe otherwise. Engineers do a lot of both kinds, but so do cultural icons. And it is not often that engineers and pop stars have something in common. Here are a few examples I heard this week…