The Claim: Adopting an Expansive Posture Leads to Power
In response to Carney, Cuddy, a business professor at Harvard University,
argues her initial finding — that people feel more powerful after adopting
an expansive posture — has been successfully replicated in at least nine
When people feel more powerful, the popular theory goes, behavioral and
physiological effects, like changes in hormone levels, blood pressure and
heart rate, will follow. Over time, these basic posture tweaks can change
people’s lives, Cuddy told Discover via email. She touts thousands of
testimonials from strangers who have reached out to her with stories of how
feeling powerful has helped them overcome rough patches in their lives.
They look at challenges not as threats, but as opportunities.
The Opposition: The Pose Is Powerless
But while people may feel more powerful in a Superman-like stance, some
scientists think any behavioral differences are, at best, grossly
Carney, now a business professor at the University of California, Berkeley,
writes, “I do not believe that ‘power pose’ effects are real.” In addition
to other investigators’ failed replications on nearly every power-pose
effect, Carney admits to manipulating the original 2010 data to inflate the
link. Such so-called p-hacking was generally accepted at the time,
particularly in studies (like the one in 2010) without many participants.
Now, scientists view it as cherry-picking data to support hypotheses.
To be fair, both sides agree the reported changes in hormone levels haven’t
panned out in other research, but the jury is still out on how strong the
case is for the other supposed effects.