April Bailey ’14 began studying gender and power dynamics at Colgate, in classrooms and in the lab with Spencer Kelly, professor of psychology and neuroscience. Now a PhD student in the social psychology program at Yale, Bailey has already published the first paper of her career.
Titled “Picture power: Gender versus body language in perceived dominance,” the paper is based on Bailey’s senior thesis at Colgate. It appeared in the April 2015 issue of the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, and was subsequently covered by Psychology Today.
“The upshot of the study is clear,” wrote Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “For women, if you want to appear powerful, you have not only to walk, but to stand and sit, like a man. It doesn’t take designer clothes, expensive suits, killer heels or even short hair to show that you’re in charge. Your body’s pose will tell it all.”
Bailey, first author on the paper, conducted her research at Colgate. Participants were presented with images of men and women in dominant and submissive poses, and then given a word and asked to quickly classify the word as dominant or submissive. The research also measured how quickly participants could make this decision and how many errors were made.
The results showed that participants associated dominant words with dominant poses for both men and women, but when it came to submissive poses, things weren’t as clear. While participants did link submissive words to submissive poses for women, men in submissive poses caused confusion. Participants didn’t always link submissive words to submissive poses for men.
Bailey also presented her research at the Nonverbal Preconference to the 16th Annual Meeting of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology in Long Beach, California, in February 2015. (PDF of poster)