Study finds power posing has no beneficial effects in real-world situations

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A study on so-called “power poses” received a storm of public attention when it appeared in 2010. But new research has found no evidence that standing in a “powerful” position has positive effects in real-world scenarios.

High power poses take up more space, while low power poses constrict the area a body occupies. These “power poses” have been touted as a way to improve your mood, career, and even your physical health.

“The original idea behind ‘power posing’ was that holding an expansive pose for two minutes could radically change your life, yielding more powerful behaviors that improved your life. I found this possibility intriguing but also implausible,” explained Joseph Cesario of Michigan State University, the study’s corresponding author.

“One main problem, which we set out to address in our studies, was that the existing evidence for this possibility was not gathered under conditions that matched how people might use the poses in the real world. We found no effects of ‘power posing’ under conditions that might be most likely to exist in the real world, outside the laboratory setting.”

The new study of 570 undergraduates failed to find any evidence that power poses had beneficial effects on risk-taking, abstract thinking or negotiating. The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

The research shows that “there are many important and effective means to improve your life, but ‘power posing’ is unlikely to be one of these,” Cesario told PsyPost.

The researchers found power posing did have one effect. It increased the participants’ self-reported feelings of power. “It might be possible that this has some meaningful downstream effects, but at this point there is no evidence to support that claim,” Cesario said.

In fact, feeling more powerful when you’re actually not more powerful may be detrimental rather than beneficial, the study noted.

“In light of these points, as well as past criticisms and failures to replicate pose effects, we suggest ceasing to recommend this technique to the low-status and powerless until more supportive data can be gathered,” the article concluded.

The study, “Power Poseur: Bodily Expansiveness Does Not Matter in Dyadic Interactions“, was also co-authored by David J. Johnson.

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