I selected this video as my artifact as it speaks not only to me but also to other people about the power of body language in the perception of others about the self and in promoting a sense of control. From the video, Amy Cuddy provides a convincing statement that even when one is nervous and feeling out of control, taking the proper body position will allow regaining of the sense of control. Cuddy, in Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, provides research evidence for the claim that by simply changing body positions, one can alter the perceptions of others and even transform one’s body chemistry to feel powerful and in control. While the sense of power and control comes naturally to some people, to others it does not. Thus, the video is a source of significant knowledge on the way things can easily change even for those who struggle with this aspect. The political, social, cultural, and economic context surrounding the video is based on the claim that with power, one can achieve more than one can with the feeling of helplessness. Power is all that it necessary for people to succeed socially, culturally, politically and economically. Therefore, to evaluate the video, the following theories will come in handy, including the Aristotle Ethos, Logos, and Pathos, Toulmin’s Argument Model, Cicero’s 5 Canons of Rhetoric, Symbolic Convergence Theory, and Fishers Narrative in analyzing the artifact.
According to Amy Cuddy, power is something every person strives to gain. It is interesting to realize that, in the video, the social psychologist provides knowledge on how to gain this power. It is possible to change what others think about the self, which is an important element of power. It is also possible to gain the power by changing the body chemistry simply by altering the body position. The argument, in this case, is that everyone has the power and the only difference is that some people know how to bring it out while others do not (de la Fuente et al. 1682). The research by Amy Cuddy suggests that it only takes two minutes of assuming a power position for a person to sermon the power within. The power position is described as having the arms or elbows out, lifting the chin, and maintaining an expansive posture. The research also reveals that assuming the body language, which is linked to dominance for only 120 seconds, is adequate to cause an increase of 20% of testosterone and a decrease of 25% of the stress hormone cortisol, causing a greater sense of power.
Aristotle’s Ethos, Logos, and Pathos
According to Aristotle, there are three aspects of persuasion for any instances of spoken words, which include the Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Ethos suggests the kind of persuasion that relates to the speaker’s character. In this case, the speaker has to appear credible to convince the audience. The second kind is pathos, suggesting the success in placing the audience in a particular frame of mind. In fact, this aspect suggests the emotional influence of the spoken word to the audience (McCroskey 19). The third kind is the logos, which suggests the efforts by the speaker to present a logical argument and one that appears sound to the audience. The mode of persuasion relates to the arguments or the content of the speech.
From watching the video, it is evident that Cuddy is committed to convincing her audience about the argument she is presenting. The video is convincing from the point of view that the research presented is from an expert in social psychology. Clearly, Cuddy is trying to convince the audience about the credibility of her work, by claiming to have obtained the arguments from research. In addition, when speaking to the audience, she assumes the same posture that she is trying to convince the audience as the posture that demonstrates a source of power, having the arms or elbows out, lifting the chin, and maintaining an expansive posture. In essence, the posture is evidence of efforts to enhance her credibility.
From the second mode of persuasion, she tries to appeal to the emotions of the audience. She achieves this by using the things that she knows will appeal to her audience (Higgins and Walker 5). For instance, she understands that everyone would like to have the sense of power and control, and would be attracted to something that promises to provide this. Thus, her use of the potential for gaining power is a way of convincing her audience.
From the perspective of logos, watching the video, and listening to the narrator presents evidence of logic of the argument. The speaker presents evidence from research to convince the audience that whatever she is saying is the reality (Higgins and Walker 5). A clear example is the use of statistics from research done by Cuddy together with Dana Carney. From the research, assuming the power position for 120 seconds is associated with an increase of 20% in testosterone and a decrease of 25% in the stress hormone cortisol. The numbers are used in the efforts to convince the audience that the information from the video is credible and thus, the recommendations should be followed.
Toulmin’s Argument Model
Another method useful in the analysis of the video is Toulmin’s Argument Model. The model was named after its proponent, Stephen Toulmin, a British rhetorician. For any persuasive argument, the model proposes breaking it down into six fundamental parts, objectively supporting, and weighing points that back and opposed the argument (Whithaus 105).
The first part is the claim, which refers to the statement that the speaker wants the audience to accept. The claim includes the information that the speaker wants the audience to accept or the action he or she wants them to admit and assume (Baddeley 3). In the case of the video, Cuddy would like her audience to not only accept the fact that body positions affect the feeling of power and control but also assume these positions. As an introduction to her speech, she challenges the audience to assume a particular posture.
The second part of the argument model is the Grounds, which is the actual basis of the persuasive efforts. In this case, the grounds involved the use of data and hard facts, as well as the reasoning after the claim is made. The claim is founded on some truths, which include the grounds. It is the premise on which the rest of the argument lies and can include the evidence of expertise. Hence, to the argument, it is critical that the grounds are not challenged because it goes back to being a claim that should against be defended (Baddeley 5).
In the video, Cuddy provides the proof of evidence for her argument by suggesting that she is an expert in the area of social psychology, which provides her the basis for making her claims relating to body language. She provides evidence from research to back her claim that power relates to body positions. For instance, she provides the grounds for her argument by suggesting that the body of a person changes the mind. She gives the statistics relating to the body language and the effect this has on the levels of testosterone and stress hormone cortisol.
On the other hand, the aspect of the warrant is the third part of the persuasive argument. The warrant is the connection between the data and other claim’s grounds. Hnece, this suggests the legitimization of the claim by suggesting the relevance of grounds (Baddeley 5). The warrant can take many forms, unspoken or explicit and implicit. Therefore, the reason for the data showing the truth of the claim is given.
Cuddy provides her warrant by connecting her data to real life situations such as the job interview or the judge in court. Power is shown to be related to the pose that the person presents in the particular situation. In essence, the posture one takes makes the difference between one getting a job or not getting it.
The backing is the fourth part of the persuasive argument. In this aspect, backing indicates the aspect of supporting an argument using other subsidiary evidence based on the warrant (Whithaus 106). Cuddy goes further to support her claims by providing evidence of the way her body language has earned her success in career and life, even after having had an accident that affected her sense of control.
The fifth part of the argument is the qualifier. The qualifier suggests the strength of the jump to the warrant from the data. Indeed, this might limit the universal application of the claim. The qualifiers are words like “most,” “always,” “usually,” or “sometimes” (Whithaus 106). From the video, Cuddy uses words such as “most” in qualifying her claim. For instance, she uses the argument to show how “most” people can benefit from changing their body language.
The rebuttal is the last part of the argument. Even though the argument is normally well constructed, there can still be counterarguments, which can arise (Whithaus, 107). The rebuttal can occur through a continuation of the dialogue, or by a pre-empting counterargument by providing a rebuttal in the early stage of the argument. In the video, although Cuddy is committed to driving her message to the audience, she anticipates a rebuttal. Hence, this is the reason she postpones her challenge for the audience to assume the power position until towards the end of the argument.
Cicero’s 5 Canons of Rhetoric
The Greeks and Romans had an interest in rhetoric and argument. In 1st century Latin work, Rhetorica ad Herennium by Cicero, the five canons of rhetoric were proposed. The theory was applied to understanding the rhetorical approach during the time but can still apply to modern day arguments.
The first canon is an invention, which suggests establishing the means to persuade. In fact, this canon relates to the logos, finding the way to say what the speaker wants to say to persuade the audience (Valenzano, 3). In the video, Cuddy begins by telling her audience to assume a particular posture for only 2 minutes. Although this is not done immediately, it is the beginning of her argument about the power of body language. She uses various examples in real life to persuade the audience, including the likeness in the use of body language by humans and animals.
The second canon is the aspect of the arrangement, suggesting the putting together of the coherent argument’s structure (McCroskey 27). Cuddy has structured her argument effectively such that there is a logical flow. She presents the challenge to pose for the two minutes but postpones it because she realizes that this should be at the end of the argument once she has explained the reason for the challenge. In this case, the reality suggests a coherent flow of the argument.
The style is the third canon, which is the effort to present the argument in such a way that stirs the emotions of the audience (McCroskey 28). Cuddy’s style of presenting the facts of her argument is effective in stirring the emotions of the audience. She effectively presents her argument through words and images to explain further, what she is saying and to arouse the emotions of the audience such that they can relate to what she is putting across.
The fourth canon is an aspect of memory, which is the art of learning to speak without preparing or memorizing the speech (Valenzano, 3). Cuddy’s speech is not memorized as evidenced in her flow of words, which evidently come from her expertise and not her memory. She also presents the speech without having to read from anywhere.
Delivery is the last cannon, which is based on the ability to make effective use of gesture, voice, and posture among other aspects (McCroskey, 28). Cuddy’s voice, gesture, and posture are evidence of power. In the video, Cuddy is speaking about power, and she has to portray the power she is speaking about. Therefore, whatever she is speaking about is reflected in her body language.
Symbolic Convergence Theory (SCT)
Symbolic convergence theory (SCT) proposed by Ernest Bormann is a theory of communication, which provides an explanation for the manifestation cohesiveness of a group in relation to common motives, emotions, and meanings. The theory describes the dynamic propensities within social interaction systems, which lead to the evolution of communicative forms and practices. It allows for the prediction of what will occur in the efforts to provide an explanation of what does happen (Gyimóthy 56). The theory is important in the understanding and controlling human communications. In this aspect, dramatizing, or use of fantasy stories are some forms of communication, which are applied in creating the cohesiveness.
Cuddy uses interesting photos and past videos such as the handshake and the lack of it between the security guard and the President and between the guard and Prime Minister. The clapping and agreement from the crowd indicate a high level of cohesiveness between Cuddy and her audience. She is able to apply the Symbolic convergence theory to ensure that she arouses the right emotions from her audience. She is successful in motivating understanding in her audience by using events that have taken place in the past (Dainton and Zelley 72). Therefore, the effectiveness of the use of this theory is evident from the beginning to the end of the video as the audience keeps nodding in agreement.
Walter Fisher’s Narrative Paradigm
The paradigm of Walter Fisher’s narrative is a significant concept of the communication theory that is founded on the art of storytelling. In this case, storytelling is the basis of all communication that is significant. The past experiences of people have an influence on the communication needs and are also the basis for behavior. Thus, the paradigm is critical in analyzing the nature of communication in humans. The narrative is a communication process involving a logical arrangement of verbal and nonverbal interpretation to generate meaning (Iversen 576). Hence, the approach is usually influenced by experiences and factors from the past. A communication generally occurs between the narrator and the listener in a storytelling process. The events which the narrator wants to communicate
Cuddy makes her communication persuasive by using story telling. The entire session of the communication is made up of various narratives. One of the most notable is the story of her life experience. She tells the story of how she got into a car accident when she was 19. She was injured in the accident and had to drop out of college. She also had her IQ affected in the aftermath of the accident, thus facing challenges completing college. She also struggled after having her identity taken away, leaving her feeling powerless. However, she eventually graduated from college and managed to have a career. She used storytelling to convince her audience of the argument she presents. She wants to persuade them that they all have the power within that can be harnessed to make them better in whatever they desire to achieve.
Significance of Artifact Findings
As it is evident from the above analysis, it is clear that Cuddy is effective in convincing the audience about the influence of the body language in achieving power and self-control (de la Fuente et al. 1683). The findings of the analysis are significant in suggesting the application of the claims presented in the video. People can use the video and the suggested gestures to achieve whatever they desire because of the power within. Cuddy provides the audience with the explanation of the way to pose and use body positions to gain the power. The reality can be applied in various contexts such as in interviews to get the job.
The video has political, social, economic, and historical significance to the audience. Everything in life lies in the ability to gain power and self-control. Political power can be achieved through the aspirant’s knowledge of how to present themselves and convince the electorates that they have the power to deliver whatever they promise. Economically, use of the suggestions from the video will provide the person with the power necessary to pursue economic opportunities, including succeeding in the career of choice. Historical implications relate to the ability of the person to learn from the failures of the past and use of power within the self to change the future. Socially, people are likely to succeed in social relationships where they harness the power proposed by Cuddy.
From the theoretical analysis, Cuddy’s video is quite persuasive to the audience. In fact, Cuddy is effective in bringing forth her message persuasively using effective rhetorical devices such as storytelling and imagery among other strategies. Therefore, the audience can use the information to change the perceptions of others about the self and, hence apply the power within the self simply by assuming the right body positions. Her work is thus critical in practice and theory. It is worth noting that people can use the information to change their lives by becoming powerful through the sending the right body language to self and others. The video can also be useful for future research on the use of body language to harness the power within. In addition to the body of knowledge on the use of body language for success is a major contribution to the video. In essence, Cuddy provides a foundation for future research on the influence of body language in human mind.
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