Are He-man and She-ra empowered by Grayskull or is it their powerful stance that allows them to fight in the great rebellion? Proponents of “power posing” might argue a bit of each, as they associate confidence with the way you hold your body. If your Twitter timeline is awash in images of you standing tall and proud like Wonder Woman while touting #powerpose, you can keep doing it all you want, but you can no longer say that science proves it works. It doesn’t. In fact, recent research suggests it may actually backfire, causing others to call out “fakers.”
The notion that adopting the assertive stance associated with victory has positive physiological and psychological effects can be traced back to a 2010 paper published in Psychological Science. Authors reported students who assumed “high power poses” — in comparison to those who were timider in their stance — increased their levels of testosterone, feelings of power, and risk-taking, while decreasing their levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).
But, newly published data in Hormones and Behavior demonstrates researchers are unable to replicate these results. Two years ago, University of Pennsylvania researchers Coren Apicella and Kristopher Smith began attempting to forge a link between the concept of the power pose and a “relevant ecological context grounded in evolutionary theory.” It wasn’t possible. Using 250 college-aged males, Apicella and Smith tested participants’ testosterone levels before and after they adopted a high power and a low power pose. There was no significant increase.