Science and the Loss of Confidence Project

Dalmeet Singh Chawla writes:

In September 2016, the psychologist Dana Carney came forward with a confession: She no longer believed the findings of a high-profile study she co-authored in 2010 to be true. The study was about “power-posing” — a theory suggesting that powerful stances can psychologically and physiologically help one when under high-pressure situations. Carney’s co-author, Amy Cuddy, a psychologist at Harvard University, had earned much fame from power poses, and her 2012 TED talk on the topic is the second most watched talk of all time.

Carney, now based at the University of California, Berkeley, had, however, changed her mind. “I do not believe that ‘power pose’ effects are real,” she wrote on her website in 2016. The reason, she added, was that “since early 2015 the evidence has been mounting suggesting there is unlikely any embodied effect of nonverbal expansiveness.” Other researchers, it turned out, could not replicate the power pose results, and withering scrutiny of the Carney and Cuddy study by fellow scientists mounted.

Carney’s assertions and Cuddy’s responses were widely covered in the media. (Earlier this year, Forbes reported that Cuddy had successfully refuted criticism of the power-posing study.) And despite her own eventual refutation of the findings, Carney did not believe the original paper warranted a full retraction, because it “was conducted in good faith based on phenomena thought to be true at the time,” she told the research integrity blog Retraction Watch. [Continue reading…]

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