Apparently, power posing is pointless

Power posing is not what it's cracked up to be.
Power posing is not what it’s cracked up to be. (Photo: Getty Images)

You can finally drop your arms: The idea that power posing can positively affect success has officially been debunked, according to not one but 11 new studies led by Michigan State University (MSU).

The findings are so convincing that even the woman who started the power posing craze, Dana Carney, a University of California, Berkeley, professor who was one of the authors of the original power pose research popularized thanks to a TED Talk, has changed her perspective on the move.

“This new evidence joins an existing body of research questioning the claim by power pose advocates that making your body more physically expansive — such as standing with your legs spread and your hands on your hips — can actually make you more likely to succeed in life,” Joseph Cesario, MSU associate professor of psychology, told MSUToday. Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology, a journal that Cesario co-edits, recently published seven studies, all of which attempted and failed to replicate the effects of the power pose research, according to MSUToday. “In other words, none of the studies showed positive effects of power poses on any behavioral measure, such as how well you perform in a job interview.”

In response to all this, Carney — the woman who pushed the idea of the power pose mainstream — stated on her website that she no longer believes in or supports research on positive effects of power posing.

In addition to the original seven, Cesario and MSU graduate student David Johnson recently published four new studies in Social Psychological and Personality Science, testing “whether holding power poses impacted important behaviors such as how well you do in a business negotiation.” Much to the chagrin of power posing groupies, they again found no evidence that making yourself “expansive,” which is what the original power posing proclamation suggested, mattered at all.

In several of these new experiments, participants watched Carney’s TED talk, held a power pose, and then completed a negotiation task with another participant, MSUToday explained. The participants who held the power poses were no more successful than their partners who did not. This is the complete opposite of what Carney said in her 2012 TED Talk, when she presented the proof that holding these poses can make you “more likely to succeed in life,” especially if you are “chronically powerless because of lack of resources, low hierarchical rank or membership in a low-power social group.” Her suggestion was to hold a power pose for two minutes. This pose could be standing with your legs slightly spread and your hands on your hips, leaning over a table with your fingertips on the surface, or seated with your feet on the table and your arms folded behind your head. The hands-on-hips look spread like wildfire. Until now.

The new findings indicate holding power poses does make people feel more powerful, but that’s it. It does not translate to success. “Feeling powerful may feel good but on its own does not translate into powerful or effective behaviors,” Cesario said. “These new studies, with more total participants than nearly every other study on the topic, show — unequivocally — that power poses have no effects on any behavioral or cognitive measure.”

You can go back to slouching now.

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