Power posing – adopting postures that make you feel powerful – really does make you more powerful, according to a meta-study.

A new study by an international team from the United States and Germany evaluated roughly 130 studies looking at 10,000 participants — finding that the right posture can really cause people to both feel and behave more confidently. However, the new study also debunked previous claims that certain postures can influence a person’s hormones.

“In therapy, they can help people feel secure and experience positive feelings,” explains psychologist Robert Körner from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the University of Bamberg in a media release.

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Power posing: build your confidence

power posing

The study of “power posing” – yes, it’s a real thing – looks at how very bold poses, like a superhero or a bodybuilder flexing his muscles on stage, affects a person’s feelings and sense of self-worth.

“However, many of these studies are inconclusive and were conducted with small samples. Moreover, studies sometimes have contradictory results,” Körner adds.

The researchers combined the data from 130 published and unpublished studies to create a meta-review of the benefits of adopting a perfect posture. Results found a connection between upright posture and power posing on the one hand and having a more positive self-perception on the other.

“A dominant pose can, for example, make you feel more self-confident,” says personality researcher Professor Astrid Schütz from the University of Bamberg.

But while the study also found a link between a dominant posture and behavior, the connection was not as strong as the one between posture and self-confidence.

The findings did not suggest any link between how you stand and changes in either testosterone or cortisol levels.

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“The findings on the physiological effects of power posing are not robust and have not been replicated by independent research groups,” Schütz explains.

The researchers also noted that earlier studies on power posing had a number of limitations. These include not using a control group, only focusing on people displaying a dominant or submissive posture, and only studying people in so-called “WEIRD” societies (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic).

“Because of that, it is not possible to say where the differences come from, as only one of the two poses may have an effect,” Körner concludes.

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