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Anne Pier Salverda writes:

I’m not sure if you’re keeping track of published failures to replicate the power posing effect, but this article came out earlier this month: “Embodied power, testosterone, and overconfidence as a causal pathway to risk-taking.”

From the abstract:

We were unable to replicate the findings of the original study and subsequently found no evidence for our extended hypotheses.

Gotta love that last sentence of the abstract:

As our replication attempt was conducted in the Netherlands, we discuss the possibility that cultural differences may play a moderating role in determining the physiological and psychological effects of power posing.

Let’s just hope that was a joke. Jokes are ok in academic papers, right?

18 Comments

  1. Well, the Dutch do have four things Americans don’t have:

    1. The words “aardig” and “gezellig,” which do not translate easily or exactly but are essential to Dutch life. Power poses would seem rather inappropriate in an “aardig” and “gezellig” setting.

    2. Lots and lots of bikes. When riding a bike, you have a somewhat hunched-over posture, and yet you are powerful, possibly more powerful than the power poser by the side of the road!

    3. A multiplicity of political parties, which discourages you (perhaps) from slipping into support of just one party and its candidates. You have to assess the options continually. This keeps your wits sharp and your gullibility low, perhaps.

    4. Drop (salted licorice). If you like it, you really like it. If you don’t, you don’t. This polarization offsets #3 and allows you to take a strong opinion. In particular, you can reach “overconfidence” without power poses.

    I am joking about any suggestion that any of this accounts for the study’s results–but since I can’t access the study for free, I figured I’d make something up. (I do have limited familiarity with the Dutch, having lived in a village near Groningen for a year in childhood.)

  2. psyoskeptic says:

    That last line of the abstract is very likely your review process in action.

    • Andrew says:

      Psyoskeptic:

      Damn! If only I’d been a reviewer, they’d’ve had to add the line, “As the original paper was plagued by forking paths, we discuss the possibility that this failed replication requires no explanation at all.”

      And if one of those ovulation-and-voting researchers had been a reviewer, they’d’ve had to add the line, “As our replication attempt was conducted with a different outdoor temperature, we discuss the possibility that weather differences may play a moderating role in determining the physiological and psychological effects of power posing.”

      Hey, this is fun!

      If the fat-arms-and-political attitudes researchers had been a reviewer . . . . “As our replication attempt was conducted at a different university, we discuss the possibility that parents’ socioeconomic status may play a moderating role in determining the physiological and psychological effects of power posing.”

      The subliminal smiley faces researchers . . . “As our replication attempt was conducted on different computers, we discuss the possibility that subliminal flickering images may play a moderating role in determining the physiological and psychological effects of power posing.”

      The football and voting researchers . . . “As our replication attempt was conducted at a different time of year, we discuss the possibility that recent football game outcomes may play a moderating role in determining the physiological and psychological effects of power posing.” But just NCAA, not NFL, that seemed to be an important point in that debate.

      The forking paths are endless.

      Maybe what we need is a generic statement of this sort which can then be referred to in all future replication papers. It would save everyone so much trouble.

  3. Anoneuoid says:

    >”We were unable to replicate the findings”

    I didn’t bother to get access so haven’t read the paper, but want to point out we have seen these claims of “non-replication” often don’t mean very much. We have seen the experimental protocol is often altered in odd ways and/or the sample size is very small and statistical significance is used as the criteria for replication. Were there any other differences introduced than that the study took place in the Netherlands?

  4. Louis says:

    “The usual disclaimer applies.”

    Seems entirely appropriate in this setting.

  5. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Excuse me, but you are the co-author of a paper which uses Dutch attitudes as a robustness check.

  6. Chris G says:

    > “Embodied power, testosterone, and overconfidence as a causal pathway to risk-taking.”

    I have to admit I’m a little surprised there’s no mention of alcohol playing a factor.

    (A friend’s wife used to be an ER nurse down in Phoenix. The typical rattlesnake bite victim came in on a Friday or Saturday night and was typically a highly intoxicated twenty-something male. Apparently it was a thing for men in their 20s to get drunk then head out to the desert and mess with the snakes. Alcohol-induced embodied power? Check. Testosterone? Check. Overconfidence? Check. Woo-hoo, the trifecta!)

    • Martha (Smith) says:

      Good cartoon, but the rest of the post is also worth reading. Her example (a) of a “nuance to the idea of replication” was one I hadn’t encountered before; it is “Aargh!”-worthy.

  7. Marcel van Assen says:

    Never underestimate the power of “drop”!
    I have never seen anything liked so much by Dutch people and hated by non-Dutch (they spit it out!) as double-salted licorice (delicious!)

  8. Shravan says:

    Actually, a good exercise at this point is to get their data, and make the p-value come out less than 0.05 in the expected direction. If they release the data (EJ?) I will demonstrate how to do this.

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