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Sudden Money

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.

I’d like to stop here but maybe I should explain further. I think the effects of power pose do vary by country. They also vary from year to year, they’re different on weekday and weekend, different in work and home environments, they differ by outdoor temperature (the clothing you wear will affect the comfort or awkwardness of the pose), of course it varies by sex, and hormone level, and the time of the month, and your marital/relationship status, and the socioeconomic status of your parents, and the number of older siblings you have, and every other damn factor that’s every been considered as an interaction in a social psychology study. The effects can also be moderated by subliminal smiley faces and priming with elderly-related words and shark attacks and college football games and whether your age ends in a 9 and gay genes and ESP and . . . hmmm, did I forget anything? I’m too lazy to supply links but you can search this blog for all the above phrases for more.

The point is, in a world where everything’s affecting everything else, the idea of “the effect” of power pose is pretty much meaningless. I mean, sure, it could have a huge and consistent effect. But the experiments that have been conducted don’t find that, and this is no surprise. Trying to come up with explanations with patterns in noise (as in the “Netherlands” comment above), that’s a mug’s game. You might as well just cut out the middleman, go to Vegas, and gamble away your reputation on the craps table. (See item 75 here.) In which case you’ll have to support yourself by writing things like The Book of Virtues, and who wants to do that?

P.S. We’re making slow but steady progress going through these Westlake-inspired post titles.

9 Comments

  1. Marcus says:

    The whole issue of that journal that you link to describes failed attempts to replicate the power pose effects – or at least failures to find anything close to the effect sizes reported in the original study.

    • Ney says:

      Maybe the journal’s aims & scope promotes this. “Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology is devoted to publishing social psychological research using the registered report format where a plan for the research is submitted for initial review. (…) If the plan for research is accepted as being methodologically sound and theoretically important, authors are guaranteed publication of the manuscript irrespective of the outcome of data analysis”

  2. Dan Simpson says:

    I love the idea that some (ie European) countries are a priori not hopeful enough for the power pose. Maybe all of the attempted replications have been polluted by Norwegians just feeling a little silly.

  3. Mark W. says:

    I find it frustrating that a lot of time and brainpower is spent on this arcane issue, especially given the tumult of the current social and political environment, which could use the time and brainpower to come up with data-driven solutions to the tumult.

  4. Shravan says:

    This absence of “the effect” also holds in cognitive psychology. Eg, something solid like the Stroop effect probably has no such such as a unique value representing the effect.

  5. robert says:

    Hi Andrew, long time reader from Australia!

    Recently a team adopted the power pose during the finals series links here:
    http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news/adelaides-national-anthem-power-stance-was-deliberate-20170912-gyg0yl.html
    http://www.sportingnews.com/au/afl/news/adelaide-crows-national-anthem-qualifying-final-greater-western-sydney-giants/o2sepejiv08b1iu1upa1zlx7j
    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/sport/afl/teams/adelaide/david-mackay-says-the-truth-behind-adelaides-staredown-stance-wont-be-revealed-until-after-the-grand-final-against-richmond/news-story/19a938100a83a2c917f4353242c40709

    It seemed to be working until the grand final when they lost (as favourites!) Which to be honest I am thankful for, if they had of gone all the way the commentary around doing a power pose pre game would have been too much for me to handle!

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