Saturday, December 03, 2016

Do power poses help?

People could try it and see if it works for them. It's possible it might work for some people and not for others.

Public Release: 28-Nov-2016
Power poses don't help and could potentially backfire, Penn study shows
University of Pennsylvania

The idea behind power poses, that if you stand in a "powerful" position, broad posture, hands on hips, shoulders high and pushed back, you will suddenly feel psychologically and physiologically stronger, is intuitively appealing, especially for people without much confidence. The problem is that it's simply not true, according to University of Pennsylvania researchers Coren Apicella, an assistant professor in the psychology department in the School of Arts & Sciences, and Kristopher Smith, a fourth-year psychology Ph.D. student.

Apicella and Smith attempted to replicate the original power pose study by Dana Carney, Amy Cuddy and Andy Yap, which got much attention when it appeared in 2010 in the journal Psychological Science. The initial study reported increases in feelings of power, risk taking and testosterone and a decrease in cortisol. The Penn researchers found no support for any of the original effects, what's called embodied cognition, results they published recently in Hormones and Behavior.

"We did find that if anything -- and we're skeptical of these results, because we'd want to replicate them -- that, if you're a loser and you take a winner or high power pose, your testosterone decreases," Apicella said.

In other words, Smith said, "people might not be able to 'fake it until they make it,' and in fact it might be detrimental."


The current findings are not the only to suggest that the effects of power posing are not real, adding to the evidence that has accumulated since the 2010 study. Some say the inability to replicate that first work doesn't matter, that they'll continue touting its results regardless. But to scientists working in social science fields, it makes a big difference, particularly in a landscape described as a replication crisis for psychology, one where, in an analysis of 100 published papers, only 36 percent showed replications with significant findings.

"As scientists, we care about the truth," Apicella said. "There's so much skepticism about research in general, especially research coming out of social science. Studies like the original power pose work can be harmful because they delegitimize good work."

To that end, and especially given the recent failed replications, Apicella cautions researchers continuing to work on this topic to tread lightly. "Even if power poses were found to work in the short term," she said, "we don't know if they could backfire in the long term."

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