“From that perspective, power pose lies outside science entirely, and to criticize power pose would be a sort of category error, like criticizing The Lord of the Rings on the grounds that there’s no such thing as an invisibility ring, or criticizing The Rotter’s Club on the grounds that Jonathan Coe was just making it all up.”

August 26, 2017
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(This article was originally published at Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

From last year:

One could make the argument that power pose is innocuous, maybe beneficial in that it is a way of encouraging people to take charge of their lives. And this may be so. Even if power pose itself is meaningless, the larger “power pose” story could be a plus. Of course, if power pose is just an inspirational story to empower people, it doesn’t have to be true, or replicable, or scientifically valid, or whatever. From that perspective, power pose lies outside science entirely, and to criticize power pose would be a sort of category error, like criticizing The Lord of the Rings on the grounds that there’s no such thing as an invisibility ring, or criticizing The Rotter’s Club on the grounds that Jonathan Coe was just making it all up. I guess I’d prefer, if business school professors want to tell inspirational stories without any scientific basis, that they label them more clearly as parables, rather than dragging the scientific field of psychology into it.

Same story with pizzagate and all the rest: Let’s just go straight to the inspirational business book and the TV appearances. Cut out the middleman of the research studies, the experiments on college students or restaurant diners or whoever, the hormone measurements, the counts of partially-eaten carrots, the miscalculated t-scores, the conveniently-rounded p-values, the referee reports, the publication in PPNAS etc., the publicity, the failed replications, the post hoc explanations, the tone police on twitter, etc. Just start with the idea and jump to the book, the NPR interview, and the Ted talk. It’ll save us all a lot of trouble.

Joseph Cesario and David Johnson put it well:

We argue that researchers should stop recommending power poses as an empirically supported strategy for improving one’s life.

The operative words here are “researchers” and “empirically supported.”

P.S. Steven Johnson provided the above picture of a cat in power pose. Or is it embodied cognition?

P.P.S. And, no, it does not help when proponents of seriously flawed work avoid engaging with valid criticism of that work, instead labeling it as “flat-out wrong” and “riddled with mistakes” while providing no evidence of such statements. (Here I’m talking about power-pose researcher Cuddy’s statements regarding the work of Joe Simmons and Uri Simonsohn.) As a scientist, you get to say that sort of thing when you have evidence, not otherwise. As a Ted talker or pundit or NPR interviewee, though, I guess you can say whatever you want at any time.

The post “From that perspective, power pose lies outside science entirely, and to criticize power pose would be a sort of category error, like criticizing The Lord of the Rings on the grounds that there’s no such thing as an invisibility ring, or criticizing The Rotter’s Club on the grounds that Jonathan Coe was just making it all up.” appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.



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