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
Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology
Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy