Power posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance
PainSci summary of Carney 2010?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focussed on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★☆☆☆?2-star ratings are for studies with flaws, bias, and/or conflict of interest; published in lesser journals. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.
This experiment supposedly shows that adopting a “powerful” (confident) pose changes people’s hormonal levels and increases their willingness to take risks as if they actually had more power. “A person can, by assuming two simple 1-min poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful.” This is plausible and interesting, but melodramatically stated, and probably over-stated. There’s a very popular TED talk about this paper, and so (unsurprisingly) the authors have been accused of reaching beyond what their data can support:
- Power Posing: Reassessing The Evidence Behind The Most Popular TED Talk
- The Power of the “Power Pose”: Amy Cuddy’s famous finding is the latest example of scientific overreach.
So, take this idea with a grain of salt.
See also Bohns, which presents evidence that power postures can also reduce pain sensitivity.
Humans and other animals express power through open, expansive postures, and they express powerlessness through closed, contractive postures. But can these postures actually cause power? The results of this study confirmed our prediction that posing in high-power nonverbal displays (as opposed to low-power nonverbal displays) would cause neuroendocrine and behavioral changes for both male and female participants: High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern. In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes, and these findings suggest that embodiment extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiology and subsequent behavioral choices. That a person can, by assuming two simple 1-min poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful has real-world, actionable implications.
Specifically regarding Carney 2010:
These three articles on PainScience.com cite Carney 2010 as a source:
- PS Help for Anxiety — Anxiety doesn’t respond to logic and reason, so what does it respond to?
- PS Does Posture Correction Matter? — Posture correction strategies and exercises … and some reasons not to care or bother
- PS Stiff, Tight Muscles, and Limited Range of Motion — Is your range actually limited, or do you just feel that way?