Legs apart, chest thrust forward, shoulders back: these “power poses” are supposed to influence hormone production and willingness to take on risk in accordance with a study that attained global attention. Scientists from the University of Zurich, however, found no support for these assumptions in a large study. “Power poses” do not influence behavior, but they might allow someone to feel more secure.
Hands pressed to the hips or perhaps leaning back with arms crossed behind the head are typical poses of power. Referred to power poses or high status gestures in technical jargon, they are assumed to stimulate both psychological and physiological processes.
Researchers around Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School concluded in a study in 2010 that power poses held for a short time influenced the hormones and the willingness to take on financial risks for the subjects participating in the study.
Scientists of the University of Zurich now refute these findings with a large study: power poses affect neither the masculine hormone testosterone, the stress hormone cortisol, nor the subjects’ actual behavior.
Power poses let subjects feel more powerful
Bodily demonstrations of power, however, influence one’s own perception of power, a result that the previous study also found. Study leader Eva Ranehill of the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich states, “This indicates that the main influence of power poses is the fact that subjects realize that the feel more self-confident. We find no proof, however, that this has any effect on their behavior or their physiology.”
In the study, 102 men and 98 women, most of them students from Zurich, were randomly assigned to take on bodily poses with “much power” or “little power”. Afterwards, the participants completed a task involving their willingness to take on financial risk where they could choose between a fixed monetary sum and a risky lottery game, the same conditions as in the 2010 study at Harvard.
The risky option was a lottery with a 50% chance of either winning either ten or zero francs. The fixed option varied from two to seven francs. In order to assess the effect of the power poses on hormonal levels, two saliva samples from each subject were collected and analyzed. The first saliva sample was taken before the participants had assumed the higher or lower positions and the second at the end of the study, after the behavioral tasks.
It takes more than just one study
“Our study is much more meaningful than the original study, as we have much more data,” states Roberto Weber, Professor at the University of Zurich and co-author of the new study.
“The greater number of subjects in our study makes it much less probable that our results are due to coincidence. Our study is to the best of our knowledge the only published paper that again examines the effect of power poses on hormones.” Roberto Weber adds that the results of the new, larger study also demonstrate how important it is to replicate published research results.
The study was funded by the Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation (Handelsbankens forskningsstiftelser), the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research, and the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Eva Ranehill, Anna Dreber, Magnus Johannesson, Susanne Leiberg, Sunhae Sul, Roberto A. Weber. Assessing the Robustness of Power Posing: No Effect on Hormones and Risk Tolerance in a Large Sample of Men and Women. Psychological Science, March 26, 2015.
Dr. Eva Ranehill
Department of Economics
University of Zurich
Tel. +41 44 634 50 60
Nathalie Huber | Universität Zürich
Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering
Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences