Power posing is a discredited hypothesis in psychology that claims that by assuming a "powerful" posture, subjects can induce positive hormonal and behavioral changes. It was introduced in a 2010 paper by Dana Carney, Amy Cuddy, and Andy Yap. The idea has been referred to as pseudoscience.
Scholars have reported being unable to replicate power posing effects in follow-up studies. In 2017 alone, 11 studies were published that were unable to reproduce the effect found by Cuddy. The theory has been described as an example of the replication crisis in psychology, in which initially seductive theories could not be replicated on follow-up tests.
Dana Carney, the lead author of the original article, issued a statement in 2016 abandoning the theory: "I do not believe that 'power pose effects' are real...the evidence against the existence of power poses is undeniable", while Cuddy has continued work on it.
In 2018 Cuddy, with two other authors, published additional research; the paper had been submitted in August 2016, a revised version was submitted in November 2017, and the paper published online on April 1, 2018. In the paper, they conducted expansive experiment and showed that, with statistical significance that, power pose (now referred as posture feedback) can make people feel more powerful, yet failed to prove that hormones can be altered by doing so.
The initial research on power posing was published in 2010. The authors claimed that high-power poses "produce power". The study included 42 participants, who were coached by researchers to assume a physical position of power. Hormone levels were measured before and after, and the authors stated that they found an increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol after posing.
A 2015 article, published in Psychological Science by Ranehill et al. refuted findings in Carney et al. (2010). Carney strongly favored the publication of the Ranehill case of failed replication in her review of the article.
The statistical methods that may have led to the original erroneous findings were reviewed by noted researchers including Uri Simonsohn and Joseph P. Simmons of the Wharton School in their 2016 paper and concluded that previous research failed to "suggest the existence of an effect once we account for selective reporting". Other scientists have attempted to come up with an explanation for how the effect could have been found, by excluding factors such as gender-based differences in hormone levels.
Joseph Cesario, an associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University, who co-edits Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology, arranged a special issue on power posing that published in June 2017; the issue included eleven new studies, along with a meta-analyses, which found that the effect of power posing on power behaviors was not replicated. The published studies were designed to definitively answer whether the power-posing hypothesis was real and included high quality research features like pre-registration of endpoints. Carney co-authored the introduction to the issue, and noted that while the meta-analysis failed to find any effect in power behaviors, it did find a small effect in a feeling of power; she also wrote that the studies could not resolve whether the effect on a feeling of power was an only experimental artifact.
The concept gained attention after a TED talk given by Cuddy in 2012, where she demonstrated the posture and argued for its benefits. CNN and Oprah discussed "power posing". By 2017, Cuddy's 2012 TED talk on had become "TED's second-most popular" and had been viewed by about 47 million viewers. Cuddy said that she felt that the idea appealed to her given her experience of recovering from head trauma in a car accident, which she said helped develop her interest in "studying how people can become their aspirational selves...How can you become a self that you are not now?"
- Carney DR, Cuddy AJ, Yap AJ, "Power posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance" Psychol Sci. 2010 Oct;21(10):1363-8. doi: 10.1177/0956797610383437.
- "Calling out pseudoscience, radically changing the conversation about Amy Cuddy's power posing paper". Mind the Brain. June 14, 2017.
- Ranehill, Eva; Dreber, Anna; Johannesson, Magnus; Leiberg, Susanne; Sul, Sunhae; Weber, Roberto A. (May 26, 2015). "Assessing the Robustness of Power Posing: No Effect on Hormones and Risk Tolerance in a Large Sample of Men and Women" (PDF). Psychological Science. 26 (5): 653–6. doi:10.1177/0956797614553946. PMID 25810452.
- Simmons, Joseph P. (June 10, 2016). "Power Posing: P-Curving the Evidence". Data Colada. Psychological Science (forthcoming). Retrieved October 19, 2017.
- King, Tracy (1 May 2018). "Sajid Javid and the strange science behind power poses". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
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- Dominus, Susan (October 18, 2017). "When the Revolution Came for Amy Cuddy". New York Times Magazine.
- Carney, Dana R. (nd). "My position on "Power Poses"" (PDF). Retrieved October 19, 2017.
- Singal, Jesse; Dahl, Melissa. "Here Is Amy Cuddy's Response to Critiques of Her Power-Posing Research". New York magazine. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
- Cuddy, Amy J. C.; Schultz, S. Jack; Fosse, Nathan E. (2 March 2018). "P-Curving a More Comprehensive Body of Research on Postural Feedback Reveals Clear Evidential Value for Power-Posing Effects: Reply to Simmons and Simonsohn (2017)". Psychological Science. 29 (4): 656–666. doi:10.1177/0956797617746749.
- Elsesser, Kim. "Power Posing Is Back: Amy Cuddy Successfully Refutes Criticism". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
- Cuddy, Amy J. C.; Schultz, S. Jack; Fosse, Nathan E. (2018-03-02). "P-Curving a More Comprehensive Body of Research on Postural Feedback Reveals Clear Evidential Value for Power-Posing Effects: Reply to Simmons and Simonsohn (2017)". Psychological Science. 29 (4): 656–666. doi:10.1177/0956797617746749. ISSN 0956-7976.
- Carney, Dana R.; Cuddy, Amy J.C.; Yap, Andy J. (January 10, 2010). "Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance" (PDF). Psychological Science. SAGE Publications. 21 (10): 1363–1368. doi:10.1177/0956797610383437.
These findings suggest that, in some situations requiring power, people have the ability to "fake it 'til they make it." Over time and in aggregate, these minimal postural changes and their outcomes potentially could improve a person's general health and well-being. This potential benefit is particularly important when considering people who are or who feel chronically powerless because of lack of resources, low hierarchical rank in an organization, or membership in a low-power social group.
- Gelman, Andrew. "Another failed replication of power pose". Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
- Gelman, Andrew. "Beyond "power pose": Using replication failures and a better understanding of data collection and analysis to do better science". Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
- Stanton, Steven J. (2017). "The Essential Implications of Gender in Human Behavioral Endocrinology Studies". Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 5. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2011.00009 – via Frontiers.
- Morris, David Z. (October 2, 2016). "'Power Poses' Researcher Dana Carney Now Says Effects are "Undeniably" False". Fortune.
- Kluger, Jeffrey (September 26, 2017). "'Power Poses' Don't Actually Work. Try These Confidence-Boosting Strategies Instead". Time. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
- Cesario, Joseph; Henion, Andy (September 10, 2017). "Eleven New Studies Suggest 'Power Poses' Don't Work". Michigan State University. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
- Bartels, Meghan (September 13, 2017). "'Power poses' don't really make you more powerful, nine more studies confirm". Newsweek. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
- Cesario, Joseph; Jonas, Kai J.; Carney, Dana R. (June 28, 2017). "CRSP special issue on power poses: what was the point and what did we learn?". Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology. 2 (1): 1–5. doi:10.1080/23743603.2017.1309876.
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- Singal, Jesse. "There's an Interesting House-of-Cards Element to the Fall of Power Poses". New York magazine. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
- Romm, Cari; Baer, Drake; Singal, Jesse; Dahl, Melissa. "Why People Love(d) Power Posing: A Science of Us Conversation". New York magazine. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
- Singal, Jesse. "How Should We Talk About Amy Cuddy, Death Threats, and the Replication Crisis?". New York magazine. Retrieved October 21, 2017.