In 2010, Amy Cuddy, Dana Carney and Andy Yap published a paper on the effects your body can have on your mind with actions as simple as standing up straight and approaching the world with strength and confidence. Cuddy continued to confidently assert her power position on this article, giving one of the most watched TED talks ever on the subject, eventually garnering speaking gigs and money based on her research. But now, Dana Carney is kicking a leg out from under her.
Late Sunday night, Carney shared a document on her website that essentially renounces the research she did with Cuddy and Yap, saying that in their original study they used methods have she has, over time, come to question. Amongst the problematic issues in their study, there was the fact that people participating were often aware of the outcome researchers were looking for, which may have added to their perception that they were emotionally helped by striking “power poses” via implanted suggestion.
The measurements for results were essentially attached to testosterone and cortisol levels, but she believes gender wasn’t appropriately handled when tracking these results. Another part of the test was to see if participants “won” a test after taking a power pose, and those results seemed to indicate that those who did had more testosterone, but she believes that was the from the rush of winning itself, not the expansive postures.
Where do I Stand on the Existence of “Power Poses”
1. I do not have any faith in the embodied effects of “power poses.” I do not think the effect is real.
2. I do not study the embodied effects of power poses.
3. I discourage others from studying power poses.
4. I do not teach power poses in my classes anymore.
5. I do not talk about power poses in the media and haven’t for over 5 years (well before skepticism set in)
6. I have on my website and my downloadable CV my skepticism about the effect and links to both the failed replication by Ranehill et al. and to Simmons & Simonsohn’s p-curve paper suggesting no effect. And this document.
It’s unclear why Carney is coming forward now, though she writes, “...Since early 2015 the evidence has been mounting suggesting there is unlikely any embodied effect of nonverbal expansiveness (vs. contractiveness)—i.e.., ‘power poses’ - - on internal or psychological outcomes.” Her post has gotten a lot of traction; she told New York magazine in an email, “...It is weird how fast it got around...I have no idea how.”
That’s how power posts work.
Amy Cuddy has not responded yet to Carney’s reveal, which must be having a dampening effect on all her posturing.