Maybe you’ve seen Amy Cuddy’s 2012 TED talk on how “your body language shapes who you are,” based on her study (Carney et al., 2010) showing that power posing influences not only cognitive but also physiological processes (more testosterone, less cortisol) and behavior.
It’s an inspiring talk indeed, but… do expansive postures really work?
Well, they do influence your thinking, feeling, and self-perceived confidence, that’s for sure. However, their effectiveness at a hormonal or behavioral level has been called into question by Ranehill et al. (2015). For their study failed to replicate (which is crucial in science) the effects of power posing on hormones and risk-taking behavior.
Apart from typical study differences like sample size and sample composition, Carney et al. (2015) point out three actually interesting deviations:
- Deception. In the new study, participants were not given a deceptive cover story about its purpose; rather, they knew that the effects of posture on hormones and behavior was investigated.
- Social Context. In the new study, participants were socially isolated while they adopted power postures.
- Posing Duration. In the new study, the power posing lasted three times longer than in the precedent study.
If I may take an educated guess, I’d say that the second point—the social context—was chiefly responsible for the differing results. Power dynamics are a form of social dynamics. If you take away the social element, you’re likely to take away the effects, too, or some of them.
What can you take from this to apply to your life?
Well, just keep on posing like you’re the King of the Earth, especially when you’re among other people; but, please, retain your authenticity.
- MBSR Mindfulness Challenge – Part 4 [Weeks 5+6]
- The Truth about Testosterone: Aggression, Sex, and Social Status
- On Being an Aggressive Alpha Male
- Carney, D. R., Cuddy, A. J., Yap, A. J. (2010). Power Posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Psychological Science 21(10), pp. 1363-8.
- Carney, D. R., Cuddy, A. J., Yap, A. J. (2015). Review and Summary of Research on the Embodied Effects of Expansive (vs. Contractive) Nonverbal Displays. Psychological Science 26(5), pp. 657-63.
- Ranehill, E., Dreber, A., Johannesson, M., Leiberg, S., Sul, S., Weber, R. A. (2015). Assessing the robustness of power posing: no effect on hormones and risk tolerance in a large sample of men and women. Psychological Science 26(5), pp. 653-6.