The ‘figure four’ or the ‘American’ is a type of leg cross. One leg is at a right angle with the foot on the floor, and the other leg is perpendicular, crossing over so that the ankle rests on the floored leg’s knee. A lot has been written about the figure four, with most citing that this type of leg cross is a sign of competitiveness, dominance (or a desire for dominance), and stubbornness. It’s been mooted that locking the resting leg in place with both arms is indicative of a tough attitude, and is a very closed stance.
The figure four is seen far more widely in America, hence its alternate name, but is becoming more common in Europe.. Barbara and Allan Pease state in their book ‘The Definitive Book of Body Language’, that although this way of crossing one’s legs is dominant, studies show that it is not about decisiveness. In fact decisions are more often made when both feet are on the ground.