Sunday, January 14, 2024

#2724: Amy Cuddy

Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist, author and speaker formerly affiliated with Harvard Business School, a position she left in 2017 to focus on her business efforts (though apparently she continues to have some kind of affiliation). Cuddy is a proponent of power posing, according to which the physical pose you assume will, thanks to real changes in your body’s chemistry, make you feel more confident, and she runs classes and seminars to teach people how to apply her idea.

And the thing is: She has done studies that do, in fact, suggest that there is an effect here. Unfortunately, her own studies failed to replicate and have since been rather decisively established as nonsense. Cuddy’s work was, in fact, a major and well-known instance of the replication crisis that hit social psychology (in particular) a decade or so ago. And fair enough: Real scientists can be wrong. That’s how science works.

What makes Cuddy a pseudoscientist and charlatan, rather than a scientist and reasonable person, is how she reacted to her hypothesis being rebutted. For did Cuddy admit that her hypothesis didn’t hold water and change her mind? Of course she didn’t. Amy Cuddy continued to stick with her conviction – after all, it could be monetized and make her popular, and she is currently running seminars and classes promoting her debunked idea. And though it probably has no impact on her earnings, she exemplifies nicely is the kind of intellectual bankruptcy that earns her an entry in an Encyclopedia like this.

Diagnosis: In some respects, Cuddy is worse than your regular internet loon and conspiracy troll; after all, Cuddy was, at one point, a legitimate scientist, and her trajectory may lend support to a more general distrust of science and scientists that her behavior makes somewhat harder to counter. But Cuddy has nothing to do with science anymore: She is a pseudoscientist, crackpot and charlatan, no less.


  1. Psychologists seem to be vulnerable to fads, far too often.
    It used to believed by them that autism was caused by "frozen Moms." Women who were "cold" to their babies.
    The 1980's "suppressed memories" and "Satanic panic," were also popular in psychology circles.
    And so on.

  2. It will be a long time waiting before you get to "R" again, but I nominate Aaron Rodgers anyway. He should have earned his nomination already back in 2021 for his COVID-19 denialism, but nowadays he seems to be using his celebrity status to promote any conspiracy theory he fancies, no matter how deranged it may be. On top of that, when called out, he behaves just like a generic douchebag.

    1. Yeah, we've taken note of him. Hopefully his delusions about health and medicine won't remove him from play before we get to 'R'.