Stairway to Power?

It turns out that how you are physically positioned in relation to another affects your willingness to comply with that other. According to Scientific American escalators can bring out the best in people.

The article reminded me of an experiment done by Deborah Gruenfeld at the Stanford Business School and an authority on power. She showed participants a photo and asked them to describe the person in the photo. The photos were placed at either the top or the bottom of the web page so the text box for the description was either below or above the image - thereby forcing the reviewer to either look up or down at the photo.

The results were intriguing - those reviewers who looked down at the photo perceived themselves to be stronger than the person in the photo. In essence, how you position yourself - even on a page - matters.