Do expansive or contractive body postures affect feelings of self-worth? High power poses impact state self-esteem

  • Robert Körner
  • Lars-Eric Petersen
  • Astrid SchützEmail author


The aim of the present studies was to investigate how high and low power posing influence self-esteem. High power posing is understood as the nonverbal expression of power through open, expansive body postures, whereas low power posing is marked by contractive and closed body postures. We conducted three studies with different methodological designs to test the effects of power posing. In Study 1, we randomly assigned 120 students to one of two power posing groups or a control group. All participants completed the State Self-Esteem Scale before and after the intervention. In Study 2, we examined effects outside the laboratory in a natural environment. We asked 49 participants to engage in high power posing in their homes. In Study 3, a total of 98 participants took part in an independent-groups posttest design (low power posing vs. high power posing). We also controlled for participants’ awareness of the research hypotheses. Consistent with our hypotheses, high power posing significantly affected self-esteem in all three studies. Contrary to our expectations, low power posing had no effect on self-esteem in Study 1. Possible explanations and implications are discussed.


Power posing Self-esteem Embodiment Nonverbal behavior 



The authors thank Nancy Tandler and Lukas Röseler for helpful comments on the manuscript. Furthermore, we want to thank Jane Zagorski for language editing.

Author Contributions

The first and second authors contributed to the conceptualization and design of the research. The first author collected the data for all of the studies, computed the data analyses, and drafted the manuscript. The second and third authors wrote the manuscript together with the first author.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was orally obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOtto-Friedrich-University of BambergBambergGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMartin-Luther-University of Halle-WittenbergHalle (Saale)Germany

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