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How to Look Confident Even When You’re Not


We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we feel less than confident – whether that’s giving a presentation, interviewing for a new job, or having to socialize with people we haven’t met before.

But we also all know that being – or appearing – confident can help us get on better in our lives.

A psychology study from Ohio State University found evidence that career paths are mostly influenced by an individual’s own level of self-confidence, rather than talent in their field. The experiment was concerned with a concept called “upward self-revision: constructing possible selves”, and it explored how four groups of students proceeded after being advised to apply to a business psychology program. The results showed that the students who already had high levels of self-confidence, and who were given positive reassurance during the process, were most likely to apply with the belief they would succeed and be accepted.

Another study found that the simple act of giving men cologne improved their confidence enough to be rated as visibly more attractive in photographs and videos by a group of women on the judging panel. The results here validated the extensive influence of personal odour on self-perception, and the way in which this influences the impressions of others, even in the absence of scent cues.

Clearly then, confidence is important for success, but the question of how to look confident even when you’re not still remains. Luckily there are a number of scientifically backed things you can do to – quite literally – fake it till you make it.

Before attending an event or placing yourself in a situation that makes you feel nervous at the thought of having to come across as confident, practice some power poses: either do the ‘superman pose’ by putting your hands on your hips with your elbows wide, chest out and head tilted up to the sky, or stand with your arms stretched up above your head. Research by Amy Cuddy showed that ‘power poses’ decreased cortisol by about 25% and increased testosterone by about 19% in both men and women. Furthermore, these poses subliminally change your brain’s perception of yourself by tricking your mind into believing you’re more confident than you are.

Scroll through our full infographic below for more quick tips to give yourself an instant confident-looking boost.


  • Cuddy, A. (2012). Your body language shapes who you are. ted.com
  • Demers, J. (2015). 7 ways to appear confident (when you’re really not). inc.com
  • Deschene, L. (2015). 8 ways to be more confident: live the life of your dreams. tinybuddha.com
  • Fronsdal, G. (2008). The Issue at Hand. insightmeditationcenter.org
  • Hajo, A., and Galinsky, A. D. (2012). Enclothed cognition. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. sciencedirect.com
  • Holmes, L. (2014). 8 scientifically backed ways to feel more confident (even when you’re not). huffingtonpost.com
  • James, G. (2015). How to sound confident (even if you’re not). inc.com
  • Lammers, J. (2013). Power gets the job: priming power improves interview outcomes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. sciencedirect.com
  • Marshall, M., and Brown, J. (2006). Emotional reactions to achievement outcomes: Is it really best to expect the worst? tandfonline.com
  • Platt, S. (2010). Fake it till you make it: 10 ways to feel confident even when you aren’t. pickthebrain.com
  • Weisinger, H. (2015). The essence of confidence. psychologytoday.com

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