Today Dana Carney,

one of the authors of the original “power posing” studies,  indicated that she no longer believes in the power posing effect.  In this statement she also provides some interesting background details about the study itself — for instance, that some measures were dropped, that some results were not reported and so forth.  Carney evidently either has some lab notes from prior to 2010 when the study was run, or she has an excellent memory for details.

The announcement was a bombshell because Carney had recently published a paper reviewing evidence for the finding. Her decision may have been precipitated by a recent paper arguing that the results summarized in her review paper were likely to have been “p-hacked.”  (e.g. cherry-picked).

The modal response among members of the psycMAP users group is “hooray.”  Meaning I think:

  1.  Hooray that Carney had the guts to say what she said, and
  2.  Hooray that since we all know the effect is not real, we are now vindicated in our skepticism.

Personally, I never believed in the power posing effect. I have never taught it in my classes and it has never appeared in my social psychology textbook. Perhaps I was biased because I first heard about power posing in a TED talk and I never believe TED talks.

However, I do believe in consistency among affect, behavior, and cognition. This consistency is a fundamental principle of social psychology and one that we find repeatedly across many social psychological literatures – self perception, cognitive dissonance, mood effects, altruism and aggression, and many others.

So, although I very much respect her decision, I predict that Carney has bailed too soon. The idea that our actions influence our mental states is certainly real, and power is certainly an important psychological dimension. I predict that valid evidence for “power posing,” in some form, will be found.

Has Dana Carney quit too soon?