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Power poses don't actually work: study

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Holding a power pose - standing with legs spread and hands on your hips - may not actually make people more successful in life, according to a study that debunks the claim which fuelled the second most-watched TED talk ever.

A wave of scientific studies spearheaded by researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) in the US found that holding power poses makes people feel more powerful, but that is where the effect ends.

"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.

Seven studies, published in the journal Comprehensive in Social Psychology, attempted - unsuccessfully - to replicate and extend the effects of power pose research.

None of the studies showed positive effects of power poses on any behavioural measure, such as how well you perform in a job interview.

The studies were also reviewed by Dana Carney, a Berkeley professor who was one of the authors of the original power pose research.

Cesario and MSU graduate student David Johnson also published four new studies testing whether holding power poses impacted important behaviours such as how well you do in a business negotiation.

The work, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, again found no evidence that making yourself expansive mattered at all.

"There is currently little reason to continue to strongly believe that holding these expansive poses will meaningfully affect people's lives, especially the lives of the low-status or powerless people," Cesario said.

Led by Carney and Amy Cuddy from Harvard University, the original power pose study, in 2010, suggested that holding such poses can make you more likely to succeed in life, especially if you are "chronically powerless because of lack of resources, low hierarchical rank or membership in a low- power social group."

Cuddy's June 2012 TED talk, now with more than 42 million views, argued that "power posing" - or standing in a posture of confidence, even when we do not feel confident - will boost feelings of confidence and will have an impact on one's chances for success, such as in a job interview.

When you are alone before the interview, Cuddy recommends, hold a power pose for two minutes - whether that is standing with hands on hips, leaning over a table with your fingertips on the surface, or perhaps seated with your feet on the table and your arms folded behind your head.

However, the new research stands in stark contrast to the claim.

Researchers found that holding power poses makes people feel more powerful, but that is where the effect ends.

"Feeling powerful may feel good, but on its own does not translate into powerful or effective behaviours," 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 behavioural or cognitive measure," said Cesario.

In several of the experiments by Cesario and Johnson, for example, participants watched Cuddy's TED talk, held a power pose and then completed a negotiation task with another participant. The participants who held the power poses did no better than their partners.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, September 12 2017. 15:42 IST