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Publication Date

Spring 2018

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Cheryl Chancellor-Freeland


behavior, cortisol, emotion, nonverbal, physiology, power posing

Subject Areas

Social psychology; Physiology; Behavioral psychology


Previous studies suggest a relationship exists between body positioning and behavioral as well as physiological responses. Power posing is defined as an expansive (high-power) or contracted (low-power) body position, and has been associated with changes to salivary concentrations of the stress hormone, cortisol. However, more recent research has failed to replicate these results, suggesting that additional variables may partially explain prior findings. The present study extends past research by examining whether priming cues play a role in influencing the behavioral and physiological effects previously attributed to power posing. Forty-eight undergraduate participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: high-power/priming, high-power/no priming, low-power/priming, or low-power/no priming. Dependent variables were changes in salivary cortisol concentrations, as well as self-reported feelings of power and stress. We predicted that individuals who are primed (i.e. informed on the effects power posing is intended to produce) would exhibit physiological responses and self-report feelings of power consistent with the positive findings of previous research, whereas those who are not primed would remain unaffected by the posing. Results from a 2x2 ANOVA indicated no significant main effects and no significant interaction effect. These findings suggest further research is needed in order to explain the discrepancy between previous findings on the effectiveness of power posing.