'Power Posing' May Not Live Up to the Hype

Study can't replicate inspiring findings
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2015 9:01 AM CDT
'Power Posing' May Not Live Up to the Hype
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is in a "power pose."   (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

A popular and inspiring 2012 TED Talk extolled the benefits of "power posing": That is, stretching your body into what researchers called "open, expansive postures" associated with dominance in order to feel more powerful. It's an encouraging idea, as the researchers put it, "that a person can, by assuming two simple one-minute poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful." (See some of the poses here.) But new findings are casting doubt on the original US study, Ars Technica reports. A University of Zurich researcher led an effort to replicate the findings, but it didn't work out the same way. Both studies involved participants giving saliva samples and engaging in various poses, either "open" or more closed-in. But the new study involved 200 participants, compared to the original study's 42.

And in the new study, participants got their instructions through a computer rather than a person, thus theoretically preventing the possibility that an experimenter was creating some kind of bias with her instructions. After performing their poses, subjects participated in games along the lines of gambling, which involved deciding what level of risk to take or how competitive to be. While the subjects who'd performed power poses said they felt more powerful, they didn't actually behave differently in the games, Ars Technica reports, nor did saliva samples indicate a difference in hormones between the two groups. Still, there are a number of complicating factors, including the fact that the two studies were performed in different countries. (Feeling an inspiration drought? Here are some uplifting stories to fix that.)

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