Power Posing Has No Effect On Hormones (Amy Cuddy Was Wrong)
New research led by Dr. Eva Ranehill of the Department of Economics at University of Zürich has found that taking on so called “powerful” bodily postures does not lead to a corresponding rise in the power hormone testosterone nor does it lead to a drop in the stress hormone cortisol, thus refuting earlier research.
In previous research published by Dana Carney, Amy Cuddy and Andy Yap and reported HERE, it was found that putting the hands on the hips or placing the feet on the desk, or more generally “expansive postures” led to more than just felt confidence, it led to real positive hormonal changes.
However, the new research published in the journal Psychological Science found no such effect.
The study tested the robustness of the earlier findings with a much larger sample than the original study. The authors caution us that we should worry when making assertions from single studies as was done with the original research.
“This original study received considerable media attention, including one of the most widely viewed TED talks on YouTube and a recent article in the New York Times,” say the researchers.
“Power posing makes people say that they feel more confident, but has no other effects. The researchers find power posing to have no effects on the hormones testosterone, cortisol, or any of the actual behavior of people in the experiment.”
Their study did however, confirm that power posing still made people report greater feelings of power, which was similar to the original study.
“This suggests that the main influence of power posing is to make people report that they feel more confident, but we find no evidence that this translates into their behavior or affects their physiology.”
The study looked at 102 men and 98 women which were randomly assigned to either “high-power” or “low-power” poses. The participants then took part in a financial risk-taking task. This has them select between fixed amounts of money or risky gambles (same as the previous study). Financial risk taking was measured as the share of risky choices chosen.
As before, saliva samples were taken to measure hormonal levels.
“Our study is far more conclusive than the original study, because we have a lot more data,” says Roberto Weber, Professor at University of Zurich, and a co-author on the new paper. ”
“Our study comprises a sample of 200 men and women, and we find no effect of power posing on hormones or behavior. The larger sample size in our study makes it much less likely that we find results that arise by chance.”
“Ours is also the only published study, to our knowledge, that attempts to replicate the effect of power posing on hormones.”
Dr. Anna Dreber, another coauthor from the Stockholm School of Economics, adds that, “This illustrates the importance of replicating published research findings. While a single study may raise some interesting questions, we need replications in order to answer these questions.”
Author Note: In 2011 we wrote a critical remark about the Cuddy research which pointed out possible methodology flaws. This comment, however, was largely ignored for the more sexy version presented by the original authors. More can be read HERE.
How did we know? Because women’s power motive is likely rooted in estradiol and not testosterone. Read more HERE.
Ranehill, Eva; Anna Dreber; Magnus Johannesson; Susanne Leiberg; Sunhae Sul and Roberto A. Weber. Assessing the Robustness of Power Posing: No Effect on Hormones and Risk Tolerance in a Large Sample of Men and Women. Psychological Science, March, 2015. doi: 10.1177/0956797614553946
Dana R. Carney; Amy J.C. Cuddy; Andy J. Yap. Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance. Psychological Science, 2010; 21 (10): 1363-1368.