EAST LANSING, MICH. - The claim that holding a "power pose" can improve your life became popular several years ago. This idea fueled the second-most watched TED talk ever, but it has recently had some doubts cast over it.
A wave of scientific studies, spearheaded by a Michigan State University researcher, suggests that power poses don't actually improve your life at all.
“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,” said Joseph Cesario, MSU associate professor of psychology.
Cesario co-edits the scientific journal, Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology, that recently published seven studies, all of which attempted -- unsuccessfully -- to replicate and extend the effects of power pose research. In other words, none of the studies showed that striking a "powerful" pose had any positive effects on behavior, such as how well you did in a job interview.
Cesario and MSU graduate student David Johnson published four more studies testing whether holding power poses had an impact on important behaviors, like how well you do in a business negotiation. Again, the studies found no evidence that making striking power poses did matter at all.
“There is currently little reason to continue to strongly believe,” Cesario said, “that holding these expansive poses will meaningfully affect people’s lives, especially the lives of the low-status or powerless people.”
The original power pose study from 2010, led by Carney and Amy Cuddy, suggested that holding power poses can make you more likely to succeed in life, especially if you're "chronically powerless because of lack of resources, low hierarchical rank or membership in a low-power social group."
Cuddy's TED talk, now with more than 42 million views, argued that "power posing" or standing with confident posture, even when we don't feel confident will boost feelings and self-esteem, leading to an impact the chance for success.
Essentially, fake it until you make it -- but this new research contrasts Cuddy's claim. Cesario's research and findings find that holding powerful poses makes people feel more powerful, but that's where the effect ends.
“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.”
In several of Cesario's experiments, participants watched Cuddy's TED talk, held a power pose and then were asked to complete a negotiation task with another participant. Those who held power poses did no better than their counterparts.
Carney Cuddy previously posted a statement on her website: “As evidence has come in over these past 2-plus years, my views have updated to reflect the evidence. As such, I do not believe that power pose effects are real.”
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