Power Pose Effects Aren’t Real, Says Co-Author of Original Study

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In 2010, researchers Dana Carney, Amy Cuddy, and Andy Yap published a study [PDF] claiming that by adopting a power pose—an assertive, hands-on-hips, superhero-type of stance—people could boost their confidence levels, overcome risk aversion, and even increase their testosterone levels. Now, Science of Us reports, Carney has publicly stated that she does "not believe that 'power pose' effects are real."

Over the last six years, the idea of power posing has become incredibly popular. Amy Cuddy has made a career for herself giving talks and publishing books touting the beneficial effects of adopting a superhero power stance (you've likely heard her 2012 TED Talk). But even as power poses have been promoted by Cuddy and embraced by the general public, scientists have become increasingly skeptical of their effectiveness. One 2015 study [PDF] that attempted to replicate the original power pose study, for instance, found no connection between the poses and risk tolerance or hormones.

Now, Carney herself has weighed in on power poses and the methodology of the original study. Yesterday, Carney published a document on her website [PDF] effectively denouncing that study. Carney says she has watched the evidence against power poses build over the course of the last year, and has become increasingly skeptical. At the same time, she has identified a series of methodological problems with the original study she and her co-writers conducted. These include a tiny sample size, “flimsy” data, and p-hacking (a widely frowned-upon method of sifting through huge quantities of data looking for anything statistically significant). “The effects are barely there in many cases,” she writes.

Carney doesn’t just think there are a few flaws in the original study, however. She believes so strongly that power poses aren’t real that she argues it’s a misuse of resources to continue studying them. “I discourage others from studying power poses,” she writes. “I do not have any faith in the embodied effects of ‘power poses.’ I do not think the effect is real.”

That said, Carney doesn’t mention any negative effects of power posing—she just argues that they’re ineffectual. So you can still have fun adopting a Superman stance, if that’s what you want to do—just don’t expect it to give you any superpowers.

[h/t Science of Us]