Wait a minute, is the power pose a thing again? Didn’t I remember hearing about that from some of my friends a couple of years back?
Well, yes, you probably did. That thing known as the power pose has come back around again.
If you aren’t fully aware of what the power pose is, don’t worry, you’ve got plenty of company. Many people vaguely remember hearing or reading about it but can’t quite recall the details.
The idea is actually pretty cool, and if it can possibly help boost your confidence, then shouldn’t we know more about it? Of course we should!
But, you might be wondering, does the power pose really work? Before we try to answer that question, we should refresh our memories on what exactly it is. So, let’s take a look.
Table of Contents
What Is the Power Pose?
First, let’s just look at a quick definition of what the power pose is.
Power posing is a controversial self-improvement technique or “life hack” in which people stand in a posture that they mentally associate with being powerful, in the hope of feeling and behaving more assertively.
Though the underlying science is strongly disputed, its promoters continue to argue that people can foster positive life changes simply by assuming a “powerful” or “expansive” posture for a few minutes before an interaction in which confidence is needed.
One popular image of the technique in practice is that of candidates “lock[ing] themselves in bathroom stalls before job interviews to make victory V’s with their arms.” 
History of the Power Pose
The power pose as a concept was first introduced in a paper published in the journal Psychological Science in 2010.
The people behind the paper were Dana R. Carvey, Amy Cuddy, and Andy Yap. The three authors claimed that strong power poses produce actual mental power.
The study included 42 participants who were coached to assume a physical position of power.
Their hormones were tested before and after the posing, and the authors claimed that there was an increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol after posing.
The researchers went on to claim that using power poses can induce lasting hormonal changes, which can in turn lead to positive work outcomes such as successful wage negotiations and job interviews.
The TED Talk
The power pose really came to prominence during a famous TED Talk by Amy Cuddy in 2012. Cuddy, an American Social Psychologist, was on the faculty at the Harvard School of Business when the paper was published.
Her video went on to become the 2nd most viewed TED Talk on YouTube, with over 43 million views to date. 
It’s a very interesting talk to watch and well worth the time.
After the TED Talk, things really took off for Cuddy. She became a much sought-after speaker and somewhat of a celebrity in the science world, and she went on to publish the book “Presence” in 2015.
She became the main spokesperson and advocate for power posing and how it can positively affect your performance, primarily at work.
The entire power pose concept made a big splash when it was introduced in 2010, and it grew to great prominence after Cuddy’s 2012 TED Talk. Then, the backlash against the power pose began.
Of course, many times when a new theory or idea is presented in science, there are naysayers and doubters.
However, for some reason, the adverse reaction to the power pose claim and in particular to Cuddy was more than the usual amount.
There were a variety of factors for the backlash, but the biggest one seems to be the inability to replicate the same results as put forth by Amy Cuddy and her two associates.
This was the case in a number of studies after the rise in popularity of the power pose.
Much of the controversy also came into question due to a statistical technique referred to as the p-curve.
What is the p-curve?
Boiling it down to its simplest terms, the p-curve technique is the theory that if a majority of studies in a particular area just barely meet the criteria for statistical significance, then the research itself may not be legitimate and valid.
It could be a sign that researchers manipulated their data or excluded certain data to make their point more relevant, or potentially that they even just gotten lucky.
Some of the science community stated that the findings presented by Cuddy and her two associates did not pass the p-curve, and therefore the findings were not valid.
Hence, these community members claimed, the “power pose” theory was not real.
Does the Power Pose Really Boost Your Confidence?
So, one group of people says the power pose has science behind it to prove it’s true. Another group of people say that science and the studies aren’t valid, so the power pose is simply a fairy tail.
Who is right?
It’s been written a number of times since the backlash to the power pose that there is actual science behind it.
Cuddy published a paper in 2018 in the Psychological Science Journal that shows extensive evidence that the power pose (now renamed “postural feedback”) is valid. 
Her publication examines 55 studies and does demonstrate a strong link between expansive postures and feelings of power.
It clearly shows that people who assume high power postures feel more powerful than those who do not. Then the power pose is real, right? Well, not so fast.
The original publication stated two outcomes from power posing:
The first was that people would indeed feel more powerful after assuming a power pose, and that appears to be true and backed by scientific data and studies.
The other stated outcome from the first publication was that power posing also led to a change in hormones. This is the part of the claim that can’t be substantiated.
While Cuddy no longer stands by the original claim that power posing will result in hormonal changes, she does still maintain that “postural feedback” is an effective confidence-boosting technique.
Things have settled over the last several years in regards to answering the question of whether the power pose really boosts confidence.
The data and ongoing studies have not been able to show that power posing has any change on hormone levels.
So, there is no proof that channeling your inner Wonder Woman ten times a day will lead to an increase in testosterone, making you more effective in negotiating and boosting your confidence.
On the other hand, Amy Cuddy’s most recent studies and publications do show that by assuming a powerful pose, people will indeed feel more powerful and confident.
Therefore, if you want to increase your confidence levels, this could be one way to do it.
Bonus: 5 Ways to Boost Confidence
Finding confidence-boosting tips is of interest to a lot of people. Power posing may work for you, and if so, go for it. Here are a few other ideas to help boost your confidence:
1. Take Care of Your Body
Think about how much better you feel about yourself and your performance when your body is functioning at a high level.
I know when I am feeling run down or sick, I am nowhere near as motivated as when I am healthy and rested.
Taking care of our bodies translates to higher confidence levels because we feel physically up the to challenge. Get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, and take care of your body.
2. Be Self-Compassionate
Sometimes it seems to be easier to forgive others than to forgive ourselves. I used to be very hard on myself every time I made a mistake. I now see making mistakes as a learning opportunity.
When you make a mistake, forgive yourself quickly and move on. Taking a chance here and there and trying things you sometimes wouldn’t have if you were afraid of messing up certainly builds up your confidence.
3. Take Action
Ever heard of analysis paralysis? That’s when you think about something so much it actually slows you down in regards to taking action.
You get yourself so worked up and feel you have to do more research. Or, you tell yourself you have to think about it a little bit more, or feel compelled to get another person’s opinion before you take action.
Sometimes, simply taking the action without overthinking things will help you feel more confident, whether or not it works out. It’s because you charged ahead and took action.
4. Measure Yourself Against Yourself
One of the biggest confidence-killing actions is to compare ourselves to others.
I hate to break it to you, but there’s always going to be people smarter than you, or people who make more money, or a friend who has a fancier car than you. And that’s perfectly fine.
When we base our definition of success or failure on what others achieve instead of what we want to achieve it’s a no-win situation.
We probably won’t ever be the most anything, but we can be the best version of ourselves — and, most importantly, the version of ourselves that we want to be.
5. Celebrate Your Wins
I don’t know about you, but it seems like I am always going after more. Every year, I want to make more money than the year before. I want to get stronger in my workouts, have more dates with my wife, lead another project at work, etc.
Sometimes, I get so focused on working towards more that I forget to celebrate some of the wins along the way.
When we stop to celebrate our wins, both small and big, we remind ourselves that we are making progress towards things that are important to us. And this in turn gives our confidence a boost!
So, does the power pose really boost your confidence? As we’ve seen in this article, the answer really is, it depends.
There is no definitive proof that a power pose will cause lasting hormonal changes that will increase your confidence.
But there is also that 2018 paper that Amy Cuddy published that includes 50+ studies and does show that there is a link between expansive postures and feelings of power.
If you are looking for ways to boost your confidence, it’s probably worth your time to check out the power pose and see if it can help.
There’s also a wide variety of other tips, tricks, and ideas to help raise your confidence. Pick what works for you and go get it!
Featured photo credit: PodPros via unsplash.com
|||^||Wikipedia: Power Posing|
|||^||TED: Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are|
|||^||Psychological Science Journal: P-Curving a More Comprehensive Body of Research on Postural Feedback Reveals Clear Evidential Value for Power-Posing Effects: Reply to Simmons and Simonsohn (2017)|