Science Has Spoken: Power Poses Don't Work

Fagjun | Published 2017-10-02 22:57

Researchers have found that power poses aren't so powerful after all. Fortunately, there are other things you can do to boost your confidence.




It's the second most-watched TED talk: if you make yourself physically expansive—basically look bigger—makes you more likely to become successful in your endeavors. Psychologist Amy Cuddy made these claims a few years ago, with seemingly sound research. According to Cuddy's findings, standing or sitting in a power pose, even for just two minutes, can boost testosterone and reduce the stress hormone cortisol. This supposedly leads those who employ expansive body poses to significantly improve their lives.


However, scientists now say that those poses won't actually improve your status, your chances of nailing that job interview, or your life in general. A total of 11 different studies attempted to replicate power pose research and get the same results, but all 11 studies were unsuccessful.


So if the poses don't work, what can we do to successfully improve our confidence?



Laboratory Conditions vs Real Life


Infographic by InMovement



According to those 11 new studies, Cuddy's original paper was so flawed that it turns out that power poses seem to completely ineffective. One important thing to consider in Cuddy's research is that her experiment took place in a controlled laboratory setting. Thus, the stakes and pressures participants experienced in the experiment weren't the same ones people would experience in real life. After all, participating in an experiment where the stakes won't actually have a big impact isn't the same as making a career-defining, make-it-or-break-it move or asking for a big promotion.


When researchers tried to replicate the results of Cuddy's experiment, they found that the effects of power posing don't actually appear in real situations. "If you hold a power pose for two minutes in a bathroom and then go negotiate with your boss, it's a different situation,” says Joseph Cesario, one of the researchers that facilitated the new studies. “There's another person in the room now and that person is in a higher spot on the social hierarchy than you are." Even Dana Carney, one of the co-authors of the original power pose paper, agreed that the findings of the new studies were valid. Carney also penned an essay that detailed the flaws of the original study.



What's Better Than Power Poses?


Be more confident by being more competent.



So what can you do to make yourself fell confident—or at least make yourself seem like so? According to Carney, smiling goes a long way. You can also adopt an open posture, initiate touch, speak up more, and actually look at the person you're talking to. Just make sure not to cross the line between confident and creepy.


Cesario also adds that the best way to gain confidence is to actually be confident of something real. This means boosting your competence so you can boost your confidence. You can go back to school for additional training, learn on the job, or you can prepare as much as you can for that interview or presentation. After all, even if power poses did work, they only get you so far without anything much to back up your confidence.

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