When individuals experience a sense of power--or even merely recall an occasion in which they felt powerful--their behavior changes noticeably. They capacity to plan effectively, to uncover patterns, and to propose creative solutions often improves. Nevertheless, their ability to decipher the subtle cues, intention, and emotions of other individuals tends to decline (see also Bargh, Raymond, Pryor, & Strack, 1995& Chen, Lee-Chai, & Bargh, 2001& Weick & Guinote, 2008).
Power is sometimes defined as disproportionate control over valuable resources in some setting or context (e.g., Fiske, 1993& Keltner, Gruenfeld, & Anderson, 2003). Specifically, power comprises two distinct facets: the capacity to control other individuals or resources as well as an independence from the control or authority of other individuals (Galinsky, Magee, Gruenfeld, Whitson, & Linjenquist, 2008). This independence most likely underpins the observation that individuals who experience a sense of power are sometimes less constrained by social norms, and thus more creative as well as often insensitive.
Sassenberg, Ellemers, and Scheepers (2012) distinguished two conceptualizations of power. First, people sometimes regard power as an opportunity to fulfill their aspirations. Second, people sometimes regard power as a responsibility to act appropriately and to fulfill the needs of other individuals. Unsurprisingly, if people conceptualize power as an opportunity to fulfill their aspirations, they are especially motivated to seek power.
When individuals experience a sense of power, they are more inclined to express, rather than suppress, their core inclinations. This tendency to express their core inclinations has been verified in many studies. To illustrate, individuals who experience a sense of power are more inclined to show manifestations of their emotions and feelings (e.g., Hecht & LaFrance, 1998).
Guinote (2007c) showed that ironic rebound might be more pronounced in participants who experience a sense of power. That is, when individuals suppress their thoughts or feelings, such as when they strive to conceal a prejudice or deny their doubts about themselves, these beliefs or emotions tend to resurface later, often more intense than before. For example, if employees are instructed not to perceive a Muslim applicant as anti-American, they become more likely to perceive another job applicant, who they also suspect could be Muslim, as anti-American. That is, suppressed thoughts and feelings are actually quite accessible and prominent. These thoughts, because they are accessible, contaminate subsequent decisions and evaluations.
Interestingly, however, when individuals do not feel powerful, this rebound of suppressed thoughts and feelings diminishes (Guinote, 2007). Specifically, when individuals feel vulnerable rather than powerful, they consider their decisions more carefully, and their momentary biases or opinions are less likely to contaminate their evaluations.
Similarly, when individuals experience a sense of power, they become more likely to express their genuine attitudes towards some issue (Anderson & Berdahl, 2002). If individuals do not feel a sense of power or authority, they are more inclined to feel vulnerable to threats or other problems. Because of the anticipation of possible problems, they become more inclined to recognize threats, hazards, and other forms of adverse information. They will, therefore, become more likely to notice anger or contempt from other individuals, and their confidence and pride thus declines (Anderson & Berdahl, 2002).
Many people like to believe that individuals who are bestowed or experience power are not actually happy. Yet, a series of studies, conducted by Kifer, Heller, Perunovic, and Galinsky (2013), explode this myth. As these studies show, when people experience power, they feel they can enact behaviors that align with their inclinations or needs& consequently, they tend to feel more authentic. This sense of authenticity translates to subjective wellbeing, because people feel their life resonates with their values and desires.
In the first study, participants completed a series of scales that measure the degree to which they experience a sense of power, both generally as well as in specific roles, such as romantic relationships, friendships, and work. A typical question, reverse scored, is "Even when I try, I am not able to get my way". In addition, these individuals answered questions on the degree to which they feel authentic in general and in specific roles. A sample item is "I live in accordance with my values and beliefs". Finally, these individuals completed questions that gauge subjective wellbeing--entailing satisfaction with life, positive affect, and low negative affect--as well as satisfaction in each role. As predicted, power in general was positively associated with subjective wellbeing, and this relationship was mediated by feelings of authenticity. Likewise, power in each role was associated with satisfaction in these roles, an association that was again mediated by authenticity.
In the second study, power was manipulated. That is, participants were instructed to write about a time in which they experienced power over someone or a time in which people experienced power over them. Even induced power increased the extent to which individuals experienced a sense of authenticity as well as subjective wellbeing at that moment. The final study showed that writing about times in which people felt authentic, in which they enacted behaviors that align to their true personality, beliefs, and values, enhanced subjective wellbeing.
If individuals experience a sense of power, they feel as if they can control how they utilize their time. They do not, for example, believe they will need to waste their time on activities that are not germane to their goals. Consequently, they do not feel their time in the future is limited& for example, they endorse items like "I feel like most of my life lies ahead of me" and "I feel like there is plenty of time left in my life to make new plans". This sense that time is unlimited tends to reduce stress as well (Moon & Chen, 2014).
For example, in one study, participants were asked to imagine themselves in the role of an interviewer or interviewee, inducing a sense of high power and lower power respectively. If high power had been induced, participants were more likely to endorse these items. That is, they were more inclined to feel their time in the future is unlimited. A subsequent study showed this effect is mediated by feelings of control in the future. This sense that time is unlimited also tended to decrease stress and anxiety.
Often, individuals need to reach moral decisions. Teachers, for example, might need to decide whether to penalize a female student who submits an assignment after the deadline--or exempt this person because she had recently experienced some hardship at home. Indeed, in many moral dilemmas, individuals must decide whether to apply some rule or principle, such as to penalize late assignments, or permit exceptions to accommodate unique circumstances. This application of rules, regulations, policies, and principles is often referred to as the deontological perspective. In contrast, the inclination to choose the alternative that optimizes a specific outcome, rather than conforms to some rule, is referred to as the consequentialist perspective.
Lammers and Stapel (2009) maintained that individuals may be more inclined to invoke rules, rather than consider outcomes, if they experience a sense of power. In contrast, individuals may be more inclined to consider outcomes, representing a consequentialist perspective, if they feel subordinate rather than powerful.
In particular, when individuals experience a sense of power, they feel a motivation to maintain the existing hierarchy. In general, compliance with policies and procedures will sustain this hierarchy (cf., Gramsci, 1971). That is, many of the policies and procedures in organizations are introduced, at least partly, to maintain authority. Thus, a sense of power coincides with a respect towards these rules and regulations (Lammers & Stapel, 2009).
In contrast, when individuals feel vulnerable rather than powerful, they seek exceptions, primarily to circumvent the existing and debilitating hierarchies. They hence tend to reject rules but instead respect the permission of exceptions.
To corroborate this set of propositions, in a study conducted by Lammers and Stapel (2009) , participants first read about a moral dilemma--in which a girl needed to decide whether to help a friend with a personal problem or socialize with a new person in the class. Next, they completed a task in which they needed to uncover words embedded within a matrix of letters. For some of the participants, the words included control, influence, power, and authority--intended to evoke a sense of power. For other participants, the words included subordinate, powerless, dependent, and submissive--intended to inhibit a sense of power (cf., Chen, Lee-Chai, & Bargh, 2001). Finally, participants were instructed to evaluate various justifications of the possible responses to this personal dilemma.
If power had been evoked, participants endorsed justifications that alluded to rules. They agreed, for example, that individuals should follow the principle that new students should be assisted whenever possible. If power had not been evoked, participants endorsed justifications that emphasized the unique needs of each person instead of the application of rules. They agreed the new girl should, perhaps, be supported because she might otherwise feel lonely--a justification that does not invoke a generic rule or principle.
In subsequent studies, Lammers and Stapel (2009) showed these effects persist even if the dilemma revolves around a particularly consequential issue, such as a medical decision. Likewise, these effects were observed regardless of whether the action they chose was punitive or supportive. Furthermore, these effects were not mediated by mood, perspective taking, or cognitive effort.
The issue of whether power enhances or compromises interpersonal sensitivity--that is, the capacity to decipher the emotions, needs, intentions, and concerns of someone else--has evoked considerable controversy. Some studies have shown that power improves this ability. A meta-analysis, conducted by Hall, Halberstadt, and O?Brien (1997), for example, showed that measures of power and status, such as dominance or social class, are positively associated with the capacity to decipher the emotions or intentions of another person from mannerisms, gestures, and facial expressions. Similarly, Toner and Gates (1985) discovered that individuals who are more inhibited rather than assertive were less able to decipher the affective state of someone else from facial expressions alone.
Some experimental studies have also confirmed this association. In a study conducted by Overbeck and Park (2001), some participants assumed a role of authority, intended to induce a sense of power. Other participants assumed a subordinate role, intended to inhibit this sense of power. Next, the participants completed a task that assesses whether they remember the remarks that were emitted by a person with whom they were interacting.
In this study, participants who were assigned a position of power were more likely to remember the remarks of the person with whom they were interacting. The ability to recall the remarks of this person, presumably, facilitate interpersonal sensitivity.
According to Mast, Jonas, and Hall (2009), these findings can be ascribed to the approach-inhibition theory of power. According to this theory (Keltner, Gruenfeld, & Anderson, 2003), when individuals assume a position of power, they are not as concerned with averting problems and thus do not orient their attention to details. Instead, they tend to orient their attention to global, abstract concepts. This orientation towards global conceptualizations rather than specific details may facilitate the capacity of individuals to decipher the feelings and intentions of someone else (Ambady & Gray, 2002& Bombari, Schmid, Lobmaier, Mast, & Schmid Mast, in preparation, as cited by Mast, Jonas, & Hall, 2009). That is, deliberation on specific details could distract attention from the holistic configuration of cues that coincide with distinct mood states.
Nevertheless, many studies indicate that a sense of power can also impair interpersonal sensitivity (Fiske, 1993& Galinsky, Magee, Ines, & Gruenfeld, 2006& Henley, 1977). According to this perspective, power diminishes the motivation of individuals to accommodate the needs, concerns, and preferences of someone else. As a consequence, attention is not directed towards the subtle cues and mannerisms of other individuals. That is, because powerful individuals follow their own inclinations or preferences, they become less sensitive to the emotions, motives, intentions, and cues of other individuals (Galinsky, Magee, Inesi, & Gruenfeld, 2006).
Galinsky, Magee, Inesi, and Gruenfeld (2006) demonstrated this tendency in a compelling set of studies. To illustrate these studies, suppose you and a colleague visit a restaurant. This restaurant had been recommended by a friend of your colleague. During your meal, both of you complain bitterly about the food. The next day your colleague writes a text message to the friend, which states: the restaurant was marvelous--really marvelous.
As shown by Galinsky, Magee, Inesi, and Gruenfeld (2006), if individuals had recently recalled an instance in which they had experienced a sense of power and authority, they tend to assume the friend will interpret this message sarcastically. They overlook the observation that obviously this friend was unaware of the complaint about the food.
Similarly, as shown by Galinsky, Magee, Inesi, and Gruenfeld (2006), if asked to write an E on their forehead, participants are more likely to write this letter in such a way that it appears backwards to another person.
These tendencies arise because individuals who experience a sense of power may be less likely to focus their attention on potential problems and obstacles. That is, a sense of power reduces the perceived likelihood of problems. Because they perceive problems as less likely, they do not feel the need to monitor the needs and concerns of other individuals& this tendency to monitor other individuals primarily evolved to prevent possible problems, such as offending another person.
Likewise, during negotiations, when one individual exhibits anger, the opponent is more likely to concede or compromise. However, powerful opponents do not tend to concede (Van Kleef, De Dreu, Pietroni, & Manstead, 2006).
In particular, individuals sometimes seem anger, frustrated, or enraged during a negotiation. In response, the opponents inadvertently feel their offer was perhaps inappropriate. They, almost unconsciously, then identify reasons that supports this contention, and hence tend to feel compelled to propose a more reasonable offer.
This tendency to concede, however, subsides if the opponents feel a sense of power. They might, for example, be more senior, experienced, or nonchalant about the outcome. When individuals feel a sense of power, the emotions that someone else exhibits is less likely to influence their own behavior. They will be, therefore, immune to the anger of their opponent (Van Kleef, G. A., De Dreu, C. K. W., Pietroni, D., & Manstead, 2006).
Because of this insensitivity towards the specific cues of anyone else, individuals who experience a sense of power often apply stereotypes or preconceptions to evaluate another person (e.g., Fiske, 1993& Keltner & Robinson, 1996, 1997). Nevertheless, this finding does depend on the context (e.g., Overbeck & Park, 2001). Indeed, Overbeck and Park (2006) showed that powerful individuals can devote more attention to the cues and behaviors of another person. This pattern of findings arises when the primary motivation of powerful individuals revolves around person not product goals. This observation implies that power might facilitate flexibility in the direction of social attention.
To reconcile these two perspectives, Mast, Jonas, and Hall (2009) argued that power can coincide with empathic or egoistic goals. To illustrate, some individuals, when assigned a position of power, perceive this role as an opportunity to foster and support their subordinates--called empathic leadership. In contrast, other individuals utilize this power to facilitate their own personal goals, called egoistic leadership. Conceivably, empathic leadership might facilitate interpersonal sensitivity, whereas egoistic leadership might stifle interpersonal sensitivity. The egoistic leader, although able to process the mannerisms and behavior of individuals holistically, might focus more on logical rather than interpersonal cues (cf motivational lateralization hypothesis).
Mast, Jonas, and Hall (2009) conducted a study that directly assesses this set of arguments. Participants imagined they had been assigned a leadership position of a large organization. Next, to induce an empathic orientation, some of the participants were instructed to imagine they were interested in both the personality and contributions of collaborators. To induce an egoistic orientation, some of the participants were instructed to imagine they were interested in the contribution, and not the personality, of collaborators.
Finally, participants completed the profile of nonverbal sensitivity (Rosenthal, Hall, DiMatteo, Rogers, & Archer, 1979). Specifically, 40 brief video excerpts, depicting a woman who is portraying a range of emotions or intentions, are presented. Participants were told to decipher these emotions and intentions, selecting one of two alternative statements after each excerpt. Consistent with the hypotheses, the empathic leader was more likely to decipher these emotions and intentions correctly than was the egoistic leader.
In a separate study, Mast, Jonas, and Hall (2009) attempted to uncover the factors that mediate the relationship between empathic power and interpersonal sensitivity. In particular, they discovered that some mood states--specifically, pride and respect--did mediate this association. Thus, pride and respect might enhance some of the processes that underpin interpersonal sensitivity. Indeed, traits that are inversely related to pride and respect, such as social anxiety, tend to compromise the capacity of individuals to decode the mannerisms and cues of someone else (Schroeder, 1995).
According to Brion and Anderson (2013), when individuals experience a sense of power, they overestimate the support of their allies, called the illusion of alliances. That is, powerful individuals do not monitor the cues of other people, such as facial expressions, as vigilantly or accurately and, therefore, may overlook hints of dissatisfaction. In addition, powerful individuals tend to be unduly optimistic. Because of misguided trust, these individuals may, therefore, be exploited by these apparent allies& their power, therefore, may plummet unexpectedly.
To illustrate, in one study by Brion and Anderson (2013), participants were randomly allocated to teams of four to five people in which they needed to complete some task. In addition, they completed a scale that gauges the extent to which they tend to experience feelings of power. Finally, they answered questions about the degree to which they would be willing to support other individuals in their team as well as their beliefs about how each person felt about them. If individuals reported elevated levels of power, their beliefs about how each person felt about them were especially misguided, even after controlling personality.
The second study was the same, except power was manipulated. That is, to prime a sense of power, some participants were asked to recall a time in which they were granted power over someone else. Other participants, in contrast, were asked to remember a time in which someone was granted power over them. Again, if a sense of power was primed, individuals did not tend to evaluate the support of other people accurately.
The remaining studies showed that such distortions about the support of allies can, ultimately, diminish the power of individuals. In one of these studies, participants were assigned to groups of three and assigned to roles within these groups. Each person represented a separate organization and were informed that alliances between two or these of these organizations could generate various levels of funding. They were able to negotiate with each other to decide which alliances to form. The participants who were associated with the highest level of funding were assumed to experience elevated levels of power, a possibility that manipulation checks reinforced. The powerful individuals tend to overestimate their alliances, as gauged by questions that were administered in the previous studies. Interestingly, if they overestimated their alliances, they were not as likely to form strong alliances and, ultimately, received less funding.
Sometimes, individuals are willing to display their emotions. If they feel angry, for example, they will exhibit their rage. If they feel happy, they will show these emotions as well. On other occasions, individuals feel the need to inhibit or conceal their emotions. If they feel angry, they might feign nonchalance or contentment, for example. If they feel happy?-such as when they are offered more pay than expected for a job?-they might hide this feeling.
Indeed, Matsumoto, Yoo, Hirayama, and Petrova (2005) differentiated six different strategies that individuals can apply to regulate their display of emotions. Three of the strategies control or curb the emotion: deamplify, in which individuals express less intensity than perhaps they feel, neutralize, in which individuals attempt to demonstrate no emotion, and mask, in which individuals obscure their emotion with a smile. The other strategies are more expressive: amplify, in which individuals express more intensity than perhaps they feel, express, in which they demonstrate the emotion accurately, and qualify, in which they show the emotion accurately but add a smile to comment on their feeling (for further evidence, see Diefendorff & Greguras, 2009).
Interestingly, when individuals interact with someone who they perceive as more powerful, they are more likely to control, rather than express, their emotions. They do not display their feelings accurately, especially if angry. This finding is consistent with the theory that power increases the likelihood that people manifest their core feelings and tendencies (cf., Guinote, 2007d).
To demonstrate, Diefendorff, Morehart, and Gabriel (2010) conducted a study in which participants needed to imagine a variety of scenarios. In each scenario, they envisage interacting with another person. For some of these scenarios, they imagined the other person was powerful and influential. For other scenarios, they imagined the person was not powerful. Furthermore, whether the person was imagined as friendly or unfriendly was manipulated. Finally, participants imagined they felt either happy or angry.
After they constructed each image, they answered a series of questions, to gauge which strategies they would use to regulate their display of emotions. Typical questions are "When I feel angry in the presence of this person, I express my feelings with no inhibitions" or "When I feel happy in the presence of this person, I express my feelings but with less intensity than my true feelings".
In general, if participants imagined a powerful person, they were more likely to curb or conceal their emotions, especially if they felt angry. Furthermore, if they imagined an unfriendly, rather than friendly, person they curbed and concealed both their anger and happiness.
Because of this insensitivity to cues, individuals who feel powerful often propose creative solutions--suggestions that diverge from conventional perspectives (Galinsky, Magee, Gruenfeld, Whitson, & Linjenquist, 2008). When individuals experience a sense of power, their attention is less likely to be directed towards the needs and motivations of anyone else--that is, their desire to please someone else often diminishes. Instead, their attention is focused on their personal desires, attitudes, beliefs, and preferences. As a consequence, when they act, their behavior aligns with their personal attitudes& they are not swayed by the preferences or opinions of other individuals. They become less likely to conform, which can ultimately improve their creativity (Galinsky, Magee, Gruenfeld, Whitson, & Linjenquist, 2008).
Nevertheless, power may not always foster creativity. Specifically, when the hierarchy is unstable, individuals with low power may become more creative. That is, in these contexts, their attention is focused on the possibilities that could unfold?-eliciting an approach motivation. Furthermore, in these unstable contexts, individuals with high power may become less creative. Specifically, their attention may be focused on problems that could unfold-?eliciting an avoidant motivation, confining attention to specific details instead of broad concepts. This orientation of attention to specific details compromises cognitive flexibility, undermining creativity (Sligte, de Dreu, & Nijstad, 2011).
These arguments were supported studies that were conducted by Sligte, de Dreu, and Nijstad (2011). In one study, participants were assigned to a position of either high or low power. These individuals were told they will evaluate someone else or be evaluated by someone else. In addition, some but not all participants were informed this designation of power may change throughout the session.
Next, participants completed measures of creativity: the remote associates task or the generation of ideas. Some but not all individuals were also informed this test predicts effective performance in powerful positions.
If the designation of power could not change, powerful individuals were more creative than other participants. If the designation of power was unstable however, powerless individuals were more creative. Nevertheless, this pattern was observed only when participants assumed these tests predict performance in powerful positions. A subsequent study showed that a focus on global patterns instead of specific details mediated this relationships. That is, in unstable contexts, powerless individuals focused on global patterns and were thus more creative.
When individuals experience a limited sense of power, their performance during job interviews and capacity to write persuasive job applications deteriorates. That is, they are perceived as less persuasive than are people who feel an elevated or moderate level of power.
This possibility was established by Lammers, Dubois, Rucker, and Galinsky (2013) in a pair of studies. In the first study, participants recalled a time in which they felt they either had or had not been granted power over other people. Next, they wrote a job application in response to a specific advertisement. Independent judges, blind to the condition in which participants had been allocated, indicated the likelihood they would offer these individuals jobs. People who recalled times in which they were granted power were more likely to be offered jobs.
The second study was the same, except participants actually engaged in job interviews rather than merely completed a job application. Participants who experienced low, rather than high or neutral levels of power, were more likely to be offered a job. This relationship was mediated by the extent to which these participants were perceived as persuasive.
Several accounts could explain this benefit of power. When individuals experience a sense of power, they may speak with more confidence and certainty. Second, they may experience a decline in cortisol, diminishing the distracting effects of stress and anxiety.
After individuals experience a sense of power, they actually tend to perform better on physical or motor tasks. For example, after recalling a situation in which they were assigned power over other people, individuals putted a golf ball more proficiently (Burgmer & Englich, 2013). Likewise, after people were exposed to words that are synonymous with power, such as influence, they threw darts more accurately.
According to Burgmer and Englich (2013), when people are granted power, they feel they can pursue their own goals rather than need to inhibit these pursuits to accommodate someone else. Their goals, therefore, are not vulnerable to distractions and worries. Their representation of these goals is more precise, detailed, and vivid. The persistence and clarity of these goals, such as the goal to concentrate and perform a motor act, enhances performance. Consistent with this explanation, when power was primed, before throwing darts, individuals could draw the dart board more accurately and precisely.
Similar to this improvement in creativity, individuals who experience a sense of power show improvements in recognizing global patterns but deficits in identifying specific details (Smith & Trope, 2006). For example, after power is instilled, their ability to determine whether or not three words, such as salt, deep, and open, are all related to the same term, in this instance, sea improves.
When individuals experience a sense of power, they often enact behaviors that match their dominant inclinations. Nevertheless, this sense of power does not always translate to self interest. For example, many leaders, who often experience a sense of power, often sacrifice their personal needs to enhance their group.
Maner and Mead (2010) explored the factors that determine whether the power that leaders are conferred evoke behaviors that align with self interest instead of group needs. Maner and Mead (2010), for example, showed that leaders are more inclined to consider self interest, rather than group needs, when the hierarchy is unstable and hence their power is tenuous. In these instances, leaders will even withhold information from members of their group. Fortunately, when competition with a rival was salient, this self interest diminished.
Leaders also considered other courses of action to maintain power. In some instances, they excluded a person who was particularly skilled (Maner & Mead, 2010). Nevertheless, if leaders did not report a strong motivation to seek power, authority, and dominance, this self interest was not prevalent. Even the motivation to seek prestige, but not power, did not evoke self interest.
When people experience a sense of power, they tend to assume that other individuals are selfish. In particular, whenever they receive a favor from someone, they assume this person is governed by an ulterior motive rather than a genuine drive to be helpful. A sense of power shifts attention away from the need to establish warm, trusting relationships. Consequently, if individuals feel a sense of power, they underestimate the extent to which other people merely want to establish relationships rather than pursue an ulterior motive.
Inesi, Gruenfeld, and Galinsky (2012) conducted a series of five studies to substantiate this argument. In the first study, participants recalled an incident in which someone offered a favor. Next, while unscrambling words to form sentences, they were exposed to terms that were either synonymous with power, such as influence and commands, or not synonymous with power. Finally, they were asked to indicate the extent to which they felt the person initiated the favor to fulfill selfish needs. If participants were exposed to synonyms of power--words that presumably evoke a fleeting sense of power--they were more likely to ascribe the favor to selfish motives.
The other studies replicated and extended these findings. For example, the same pattern of results emerged in the context of a work favor or a marriage. Similarly, when other manipulations of power were utilized, such as when participants were asked to remember a time in which they felt powerful or powerless, the same pattern of results was observed. In addition, when participants ascribed favors to selfish behavior, their gratitude and trust of other people diminished. Interestingly, powerful individuals were especially distrusting towards anyone who offered favors: that is, after they received a favor, their relationship with this person actually deteriorated.
If individuals feel powerless rather than powerful, they become more inclined to prefer products that demonstrate their status rather than products that seem effective and functional. That is, when individuals feel powerful, they are more sensitive to their personal needs, preferences, and inclinations. They will, therefore, seek products or goods that fulfill these inclinations--products or goods that are useful and functional.
In contrast, when individuals do not feel powerful, they instead strive to fulfill the expectations or priorities of someone else--and thus might be less concerned with the utility of products or goods. Furthermore, these individuals strive to restore a sense of power. To satisfy this motive, they seek products or goods that can enhance their perceived status.
This possibility is consistent with the communities that are perceived as low in power but spend a higher percentage of the salary on goods and products that are visible to everyone else--goods and products, such as jewelry, that boost their status. Rucker and Galinsky (2009), for example, showed that individuals granted power were more influenced by slogans that highlighted the utility of some product instead of the status. They were more inclined to purchase an expensive pen if the slogan for this brand was "A wonderful display of your status to everyone" than if the slogan was "A wonderful instrument of performance when you need it". They were also more likely to construct slogans that emphasized utility rather than status.
Because individuals who experience a sense of powerful are more sensitive to their personal inclinations, not contextual cues, their capacity to update their goals or plans, as well as to maintain their intentions, despite distractions, tends to improve--called executive functions (Smith, Jostmann, Galinsky, & van Dijk, 2008). In particular, when individuals experience a sense of subordination rather than empowerment, their attention is directed towards attempting to fulfill the duties or obligations that someone else has imposed. Their capacity to set, adapt, and maintain their own goals, therefore, tends to dissipate.
Smith, Jostmann, Galinsky, and van Dijk (2008) showed that a sense of power improved performance on three facets of executive functioning: updating, inhibiting, and planning. First, when individuals experienced a sense of power, their performance on a task that reflects updating--the capacity to identify information in the environment that is relevant to an ongoing goal. When this information is identified, other data stored in working memory is replaced.
Specifically, participants were instructed to listen to a series of numbers. They were also told to press a button whenever one number was equal to another number that was presented two items ago, called the two-back task. Performance on this task improved in participants who were assigned positions of power (Smith, Jostmann, Galinsky, & van Dijk, 2008).
Second, a sense of power enhances the capacity of individuals to inhibit dominant, but unsuitable responses (Smith, Jostmann, Galinsky, & van Dijk, 2008). That is, when individuals are exposed to words that represent power, their performance on the Stroop task improves. That is, they can more readily name the font color of words that represent contradictory hues (Smith, Jostmann, Galinsky, & van Dijk, 2008).
Third, power enhances the capacity of individuals to plan (Smith, Jostmann, Galinsky, & van Dijk, 2008). Planning, in this context, involves switching between superordinate and subordinate goals. That is, to plan, individuals must update the prevailing goal and inhibit irrelevant goals. For example, when individuals are exposed to words that relate to power, they perform more effectively on the Tower of Hanoi task (Smith, Jostmann, Galinsky, & van Dijk, 2008). To complete this task, individuals must rearrange a sequence of disks. The disks initially appear on one stalk. They must then be rearranged to form a specific pattern with various constraints. The key feature is that, sometimes, to reach their goal, individuals must sometimes shift the disks to a pattern that diverges appreciably from the final arrangement. In other words, they must fulfill specific goals that diverge from their final goal.
After people fail on some task, counterfactual thinking, in which people consider how they could have responded more effectively, tends to be helpful. Such counterfactual thinking tends to enhance behavior in the future. Interestingly, as Scholl and Sassenberg (2014) revealed, when individuals experience a sense of power, they are more likely to engage in counterfactual thinking after failures. That is, power instills in people a sense of control--a sense they can improve their behavior in the future. Because of this sense of control, people who experience power feel that counterfactual thoughts, and solutions to improve similar problems in the future, are more likely to be effective and beneficial.
To assess these possibilities, in one study, conducted by Scholl and Sassenberg (2014), participants recalled either a failed collaboration in the past or a potential collaboration in the future. In addition, to manipulate power, they imagined this collaboration with either a subordinate or supervisor--instilling high and low power respectively. Next, they were instructed to list all the thoughts that are evoked on how the outcome of this collaboration could be optimized. Independent judges then identified the number of counterfactual thoughts that participants listed as well as whether or not these thoughts were self-focused, such as "If I had informed my boss about the matter, the situation would have improved" rather than "If he had..."
Participants expressed more self-focused counterfactual thoughts if they had recalled a failed collaboration with a subordinate than if they had recalled a failed collaboration with a superior. Presumably, interactions with a subordinate instil a sense of relative power, and this sense of power fostered the sense of control that is needed to encourage counterfactual thoughts about how they could have behaved differently.
In contrast, participants expressed more thoughts and plans if they had considered a potential collaboration with a superior than if they had considered a potential collaboration with a subordinate. Power diminished the degree to which individuals may plan in preparation of future events.
Subsequent studies replicated and extended this finding. These studies showed that other manipulations of power generate the same effects. In addition, a sense of control mediated this association between power and self-focused counterfactual thoughts. So feelings of power, autonomy, and choice may encourage such beneficial thoughts.
Power seems to enhance prejudice, but only if measured implicitly rather than explicity, as shown by Guinote, Willis, and Martellotta (2010). In their first study, students were asked to express their opinions about various school policies and initiatives. To elicit a sense of power, some students were informed their perspective will considerably affect the final decision of the school. To curb this sense of power, other students were informed their perspective will not affect the final decision of the school.
Next, participants completed a series of three coordinated tasks to assess implicit prejudice. First, participants were exposed to a series of positive and negative words, like attractive and annoying respectively. Their task was to decide whether the word was good or bad, as rapidly as possible. Second, a series of faces, of White, Hispanic, Asian, and African Americans, were presented. Later, more faces were presented, and participants were instructed to determine which of these faces had been presented earlier. Finally, positive and negative words were presented, superimposed on various faces. Participants were again told to decide whether the word was good or bad as well as to memorize the faces. This instruction to memorize the faces was included merely to ensure the participants attended to this photograph.
Compared to other participants, the individuals who experienced a sense of power showed more implicit prejudice. That is, these White participants could more readily decide that positive words were good if superimposed on a White face. Similarly, these participants could decide more rapidly that negative words were bad if superimposed on an African American face. Thus, if power was evoked, individuals were more likely to associate positive concepts with White skin and negative concepts with Black skin.
Study 2 replicated this observation, but with a different measure of implicit prejudice: the Affect Misattribution Procedure (Payne, Cheng, Govorun, & Stewart, 2005). Furthermore, this study showed that power was unrelated to explicit measure of prejudice, called the modern racism scale. Overall, these findings are important, partly because they show that implicit attitudes are malleable.
Guinote, Willis, and Martellotta (2010) offered several arguments to explain this finding. First, according to the situated focus theory of power (see Guinote, 2007d), power confines attention to the prevailing or dominant associations with the surrounding context. Hence, when individuals interact with members of minority groups, their prevailing associations or stereotypes are salient. In contrast, limited power extends attention to a broader range of cues. Similarly, power might induce automatic, rather than controlled, social cognition--and thus curb the capacity of individuals to override entrenched tendencies. Finally, power might inspire individuals to maintain the status quo, evoking negative attitudes towards other echelons (cf., Fiske, 1993).
Interestingly, as shown by Galinsky, Magee, Gruenfeld, Whitson, and Linjenquist (2008), the attitudes of powerful individuals are more inclined to shift in response to changes in their behavior. For example, when individuals who experience a sense of power engage in some act, such as help someone, they assume they must value such behavior--in this instance--altruism, because they ascribe their own actions to personal attitudes and preferences. Hence, if somehow they are encouraged to help someone, they subsequently become more inclined to value altruism.
The effect of power might depend on whether individuals believe they can influence other colleagues effectively. That is, in a study conducted by Chen, Langner, and Mendoza-Denton (2009), participants completed the personal sense of power scale, reflecting the extent to which they feel they have developed the capacity to influence other individuals. Individuals who were assigned positions of power were more likely to demonstrate self expression--in which their behavior aligns with their states or traits--particularly if they believe they can influence other colleagues effectively.
Accordingly, if individuals believe they can influence other colleagues effectively, assignment to a powerful role aligns with their inclinations, representing a form of fit. When individuals experience this sense of fit, their personal tendencies are more likely to be expressed.
Similarly, as Fast and Chen (2009) show, when individuals with power feel they might not be competent, they are especially aggressive. That is, when people are granted positions of power, they feel they should demonstrate more advanced skills and qualities. If they feel incompetent, these individuals do not feel they have satisfied these expectations--a discrepancy that tends to elicit negative emotions and evoke defensive reactions (see self discrepancy theory). In particular, because of this discrepancy between their perceived incompetence and the expectations of their exalted position, individuals anticipate some adversity. Aggression represents an attempt to overcome this adversity.
Fast and Chen (2009) conducted a series of studies that validate this account. In one study, participants completed a measure that gauges whether or not they feel their existing position at work wields power. Next, a scale that measures fear of negative evaluations was administered, representing perceived incompetence. Finally, the extent to which these individuals tend to be aggressive or argumentative was assessed. As hypothesized, perceived incompetence was associated with aggression, but only in people who felt they were assigned power at work.
The second study applied a similar rationale, except utilized different measures or manipulations. To prime high or low power, participants wrote about a time in their lives in which they were granted considerable or negligible power respectively. Next, participants wrote about an occasion in which they felt competent or incompetent. Finally, the level of noise they dispensed to other people, putatively to punish incorrect answers to a questionnaire, represented the measure of aggression (see measures of aggression). Again, memories of incompetence evoked aggression, but only after high levels of power had been primed.
As the third and fourth study showed, if participants had first received a form of self affirmation, in which their qualities or values were highlighted (see self affirmation theory), these effects dissipated. This finding is consistent with the proposition that perceived incompetence, coupled with elevated power, threatens self perceptions--a threat that is protected by self affirmation.
One of the practical implications of this finding is that aggression might subside when individuals feel more competent. For example, if colleagues seek advice from aggressive individuals, angry outbursts might not be as likely.
Usually, when people feel powerful but incompetent, they tend to act aggressively. However, if they had recently received an expression of gratitude from someone, this aggression diminishes. That is, gratitude is particularly like to reduce the aggression of someone who feels powerful but incompetent (Cho & Fast, 2012).
This possibility was confirmed by Cho and Fast (2012). In this study, participants were assigned to groups of two people. One person wrote some instructions about a task. Another person then read this piece.
This second person was told either to evaluate the piece, inducing a sense of power, or to analyze but not evaluate the work, not inducing a sense of power. In addition, this person also received feedback about another task and, in one condition, received negative feedback about their competence. Finally, the first person expressed gratitude to the second person, such as "Thank you so much! I am really grateful" or did not express gratitude. The second person was subsequently more derogatory towards the first person if power had been inducted and competence had been challenged. However, gratitude diminished the likelihood of this response.
In some instances, the hierarchy is stable. People who are granted positions of power or influence tend to retain these privileges. In other instances, the hierarchy is unstable. People who are granted positions of power or influence may be usurped at any time.
If power is unstable but desired, people in positions of power may be more concerned with retaining these privileges rather than pursuing their values. The approach motivation and the inclination to embrace risks--tendencies that usually correspond to power--might diminish. Instead, a more conservative orientation, concerned with maintaining the status quo, might prevail.
This possibility was proposed and validated by Maner, Gailliot, Butz, and Peruche (2007). In one of these studies, participants were told they will work in teams to solve some problem, called the Tanagram task. All individuals first completed a test that, supposedly, gauges leadership skills. Some participants were assigned the role of manager because of their exemplary scores on this test. Yet, some of these managers were informed that someone else might be offered this role, depending on the performance of individuals on the Tanagram task& these individuals, therefore, felt their position of power was unstable.
Immediately before completing the Tanagram task, however, participants also undertook the Balloon Analog Risk Test or BART, in which they can increase the size of a simulated balloon. This test measures risk taking. If people increase the size of this balloon appreciably, they earn more money but risk the possibility the balloon would burst, in which case they would receive no reward.
If the individuals were assigned a position of stable power, they were more likely than were other participants to embrace risks and increase the size of this balloon considerably. If, however, the individuals were assigned a position of unstable power, they were less likely than were other participants to embrace risks. Instead, they were more conservative, indicative of an avoidant or conservative style. This pattern of findings, however, emerged only in participants who value power, as gauged by a previous questionnaire. Therefore, unstable positions of power can provoke the need to maintain privileges, manifesting as a conservative style, in people who value power.
The effect of power on cognition or behavior may depend on the cultural orientations of individuals (Torelli & Shavitt, 2011). Specifically, on some occasions, individuals adopt a vertical individualist orientation, almost equivalent to an independent self construal (see self construal theory), in which they strive to enhance their personal status. When granted power, their primary motive is to pursue, and even impose, their own preferences and inclinations.
In contrast, on other occasions, although more in Asian nations, individuals adopt a horizontal collectivist orientation, almost equivalent to an interdependent self construal, in which they strive to enhance the harmony and functioning of their collectives, such as their family or team. When granted power, the primary motive of these individuals is to help members of these collectives.
Accordingly, the effect of power on cognition or behavior may differ between individuals who adopt a vertical individualist orientation and individuals who adopt a horizontal collectivist orientation. Torelli and Shavitt (2011) uncovered some findings that confirm this possibility. In their study, to evoke a vertical individualist orientation, individuals read about a product that offers investment advice. This description referred to three features that emphasize status, such as "a member of the most powerful financial group". To evoke a horizontal collectivist orientation, individuals read about a dog food, in which three features emphasizes nurturing, such as "a dog food ...that is sure to make your dog's face light up with excitement".
Next, participants read additional information about the respective products. Some of this information was congruent with the initial description. For the investment product, an example is "Financial experts graduated from the top-tier universities in the country". For the dog food, an example is "Carefully designed by pet lovers like you who know how much you care for the well being of your dog". In addition, they received information that does not align with the initial description but is more incongruent. For the investment product, an example is "Financial specialists would call customers on their birthdays". For the dog food, an example is "The [pet food] company influences distributors to stop carrying competitors". Finally, 20 minutes later, participants completed a recognition test, designed to assess which pieces of information they remember.
If a vertical individualist orientation had been evoked, participants tended to recognize information that was congruent with the initial description. They disregarded information that diverged from their expectations. In contrast, if a horizontal collectivist orientation had been evoked, participants tended to recognize information that was incongruent with the initial description. They were more sensitive to information that diverged from their expectations. These individuals, presumably, assume the responsibility to assist members of their group and, therefore, are more sensitive to the idiosyncratic characteristics of each person. They detect subtle variations more effectively. Subsequent studies confirmed these findings with different primes of power and other products.
Previous research has conflated two variants of power, according to Lammers, Stoker, and Stapel (2011). The first variant is called social power, which reflects the extent to which people are able to influence other individuals. The second variant is called personal power, which reflects the degree to which people are not influenced by other individuals and instead feel autonomous and liberated.
As Lammers, Stoker, and Stapel (2011) showed, these two variants of power do not always elicit the same consequences. In essence, when individuals experience social power, they are more sensitive to the social environment. In contrast, when they experience personal power, they feel more independent and are less sensitive to the social environment. They will not process the social environment as comprehensively, invoking stereotypes and other heuristics.
In one study, to prime social power, some participants recalled a time in which they were granted authority over other people. To prime personal power, other participants recalled a time in which they were free from the influence of other people. In the control condition, participants recalled the last time they went shopping.
Next, participants completed a task called the Donald paradigm. They received ambiguous information about a girl who seemed quite reliant on her boyfriend. Participants then rated her on ten traits that are stereotypical of women, such as sensitive, caring, modest, and naive. Alternatively, some participants completed a survey that assesses the degree to which they demonstrate behavioral approach (see reinforcement sensitivity theory), in which they pursue rewards without hesitation or caution.
When individuals experienced personal power, but not social power, they were especially likely to stereotype women. They rated the girl as high on all the stereotypical traits of women. Both variants of power, however, elicited behavioral approach. Presumably, behavioral approach does not depend on whether individuals are sensitive to their social environment. A second correlational study replicated these findings.
Typically, when people feel a sense of power, they do not readily adopt the perspective of someone else. Consequently, they may be dismissive and unwilling to help.
However, as Galinsky, Magee, Rus, Rothman, and Todd (2014) showed, when power is combined with perspective taking, this tendency diminishes. In particular, power enables people to pursue and implement their dominant tendencies. If the dominant tendency of individuals is to adopt the perspective of someone else, and thus feel empathy and a willingness to assist, power should translate this tendency to action. Consequently, individuals who experience power should be more, rather than less, inclined to demonstration cooperation and understanding, provided perspective taking is encouraged.
Galinsky, Magee, Rus, Rothman, and Todd (2014) conducted three studies that verify these arguments. In the first study, to manipulate power, individuals were instructed to write about a time in which they were or were not granted authority over other people. In addition, to manipulate perspective taking, individuals completed the sentence unscrambling task. Their task was to construct sentences from sets of five words. Embedded in these sentences were either words associated with perspective taking, such as perspective or viewpoint, or words not associated with perspective taking. Finally, participants were instructed to write an essay on how they would retrench an employee.
If participants were exposed to words that relate to perspective taking, their essay exhibited more interpersonal sensitivity: They explained their decision thoroughly and exhibited respect and sympathy, as rated by independent judges. This effect of perspective taking, however, was especially pronounced after a sense of power had been induced.
A subsequent study replicated this finding. In this study, a different procedure was utilized to manipulate perspective taking: In particular, some but not all participants were encouraged to reflect upon an imminent discussion from the perspective of their partner, such as to imagine the interests, motives, and thoughts of this person. These participants were more likely to share vital information to their partner later, especially if a sense of power had been induced.
According to Keltner, Gruenfeld, and Anderson (2003), most of the consequences of power can be ascribed to the distinction between approach and avoidance. That is, when individuals experience a sense of power, they primary motivation is to approach a desirable end state rather than to avoid an undesirable end state. That is, a sense of power activates the behavioral approach system, as defined by reinforcement sensitivity theory. Cognitive processes that facilitate the pursuit of rewards are activated. In contrast, cognitive processes that orient attention towards potential adversities as well as opportunities to evade these threats are inhibited. Nevertheless, according to Keltner, Gruenfeld, and Anderson (2003), when individuals feel their level of power is unstable or vulnerable, the association between perceived power and approach motivation diminishes.
Power has also been ascribed to other mechanisms. According to the situated focus theory of power (see Guinote, 2007d), power confines attention to the prevailing or dominant associations with the surrounding context. In contrast, limited power extends attention to a broader range of cues. Alernatively, power might inspire individuals to maintain the status quos (cf., Fiske, 1993).
Abstract, rather than concrete, thinking has been shown to instill a sense of power. For example, after individuals consider why, not how, they would like to achieve particular goals, they tend to feel more powerful (Smith, Wigboldus, & Dijksterhuis, 2008). That is, they tend to feel more dominant, assertive, firm, confident, and independent rather than submissive, unassertive, timid, uncertain, and insecure. Furthermore, they prefer roles that involve supervision of other individuals as well as overestimate their sense of control.
In particular, sometimes, individuals focus their attention on more abstract or unobservable concepts, such as why they would like to achieve specific goals or broad patterns (see Construal level theory). On other occasions, individuals focus their attention on more concrete and observable details, such as how they would like to achieve goals. When individuals focus on abstract, not concrete, concepts, they experience a sense of flexibility and choice. Many interpretations are possible& many options are still available, and hence they feel a greater sense of control (Smith, Wigboldus, & Dijksterhuis, 2008).
After people consume their effort on some tasks that demands appreciable concentration, called ego depletion, their sense of power tends to decline (Kim, Lee, & Rua, 2015). In particular, when individuals feel exhausted or depleted, tasks seem more difficult than usual. If tasks seem difficult, people shift their attention from the aspirations they want to achieve in the future to the specific problems they need to resolve now. They will, therefore, tend to orient their attention to tangible details, called a concrete construal, rather than overarching patterns, called an abstract construal.
In contrast to an abstract construal, a concrete construal tends to diminish a sense of power. Because individuals are oriented towards specific details only, they do not feel their social network is extensive. They also do not feel that many opportunities are available. They feel their choices are more limited as well. Because of these feelings, this sense of power also diminishes (Kim, Lee, & Rua, 2015).
Kim, Lee, and Rua (2015) conducted a series of studies that validate these assumptions. For example, as one study showed, after individuals engaged in a task that depletes mental effort--such as to avoid thinking about a white bear--they were more likely to report a sense of power. That is, they were inclined to endorse items like "In my relationship with others, I think I have a great deal of power".
The second study was similar except participants also completed a measure of construal level, called the Behavioral Identification Form. This measure assessed, for example, whether people construe an activity like creating a list in concrete terms, such as "Writing things down", or abstract terms, such as "Becoming organized". If mental effort had been depleted, participants were more likely to demonstrate a concrete construal, and this concrete construal mediated the association between ego depletion and power.
Furthermore, as subsequent studies showed, if an abstract construal had been primed, this depletion was not as likely to diminish power. Therefore, to sustain power in the midst of demanding tasks, managers should foster an abstract construal, perhaps by emphasizing the future implications and significance of the tasks.
Even incidental exposure to words that represent significant power, such as authority or dominate, rather than words that represent limited power, such as subordinate or obey, can generate the manifestations of power. In many studies, for example, participants engage in some task, in which words that represent power are embedded. They might, for example, need to unscramble sets of five words to construct sentences of four words (e.g., Smith, Jostmann, Galinsky, & van Dijk, 2008& Smith & Trope, 2006).
Exposure to words that are synonymous with power improves the capacity to identify global patterns rather than focus on specific details (Smith & Trope, 2006). Likewise, exposure to these words enhances the capacity of individuals to inhibit dominant, but unsuitable responses (Smith, Jostmann, Galinsky, & van Dijk, 2008). Specifically, performance on the Stroop task, in which individuals must name the font color of words that sometimes represent contradictory hues, tends to improve (Smith, Jostmann, Galinsky, & van Dijk, 2008).
Individuals obviously experience a sense of power when they are assigned positions of influence, authority, or decision making. Indeed, in many studies, to manipulate power, participants are assigned to positions of authority or subordination (Smith, Jostmann, Galinsky, & van Dijk, 2008)--or merely instructed to imagine such positions (Smith & Trope, 2006). In a typical study, some participants are informed they will direct and evaluate the performance of other participants (e.g., Richeson & Ambady, 2003& Smith, Jostmann, Galinsky, & van Dijk, 2008).
This manipulation is sufficient to generate some of the manifestations of power. Smith, Jostmann, Galinsky, and van Dijk (2008), for example, showed that individuals assigned positions of power performed more effectively on a task that reflects a form of executive functioning, called updating. That is, participants were instructed to listen to a series of numbers. They were also told to press a button whenever one number was equal to another number that was presented two items ago, called the two-back task.
When people deliberately speak with a lower pitch than usual, they perceive themselves as more influential, assertive, firm, confident, and independent as well as direct their attention more to broad categories rather than specific details (Stel, van Dijk, Smith, van Dijk, & Djalal, 2013). For example, in one of the studies that was conducted by Stel, van Dijk, Smith, van Dijk, and Djalal (2013), participants read some text aloud. Some individuals were asked to read in a pitch that is higher than natural or usual. Other individuals were asked to read in a pitch that is lower than natural or usual. Finally, some individuals did not receive any instructions about the pitch of their voice. Next, individuals were asked to indicate the degree to which they perceive themselves as dominant, active, assertive, firm, certain, secure, and independent, all indices of power. Participants asked to lower the pitch of their voice perceived themselves as more powerful than participants assigned no instructions or told to raise the pitch of their voice. A subsequent study showed that merely listening to a lower voice did not promote this sense of power.
A final study showed that individuals tend to orient their attention to broad categories, rather than specific details, when they lower the pitch of their voice. After reading a text, with a raised or lowered voice, 100 words were presented, 10 words from each of 10 categories. After a delay, another set of words was presented, and participants indicated which of these words they had seen before. If participants had lowered their voice, they were more inclined to claim incorrectly that a new word was presented before, but only if this word was similar to a previous word. Presumably, they encoded the words broadly and could not differentiate related words, such as dog and wolf.
Arguably, individuals tend to associate deep voices with power& many people with deep voices are quite competitive and often attract power. In contrast, they associate high voices with limited power. When power is limited, people tend to direct their attention to specific details, because they are concerned about subtle mistakes.
If people refuse to apologize, they are actually more likely to experience a sense of power and feel they follow their values, and these states enhance self-esteem (Okimoto, Wenzel, & Hedrick, 2013). These emotional consequences, unfortunately, might sometimes prevent individuals from apologizing even when they should, diminishing the possibility of forgiveness.
In the first study, conducted by Okimoto, Wenzel, and Hedrick (2013), participants were instructed to remember a time in which they upset someone--and apologized, refused to apologize, or did not initiate any action. Next, they received a series of questions about the event, such as how apologetic they felt and the severity of their actions, primarily as control variables. Finally, they indicated the extent to which they now experience various feelings, such as powerful, weak, and demeaned, to represent power, courageous and sincere, to represent value integrity, and good, satisfied, proud, and worthy, to represent self-esteem. Refusing to apologize was positively associated with self-esteem, and this relationship was mediated by power and value integrity.
In the second study, participants recalled a past time in which they upset someone, but then were instructed to write an email to this person, either apologizing or refusing to apologize. Again, power and value integrity mediated the relationship between refusing to apologize and self-esteem.
When individuals apologize, they experience a sense of dissonance between their past behavior and their perception of themselves now. This dissonance might diminish the sense they align to their values. In addition, an explicit refusal to apologize, rather than merely failure or fear to apologize, reflects a sense of dominance and independence, evoking feelings of power. This integrity of values and power implies the person acted properly and autonomously, promoting self-esteem.
Many subtle cues affect the perceived power of another person. As showed by Schubert, (2005), for example, a person, team, or organization that is described at the top of a page or screen is more likely to perceived as powerful than a person, team, or organization that is described at the bottom of a page or screen. This inclination arises because most individuals unconsciously associate elevation from the ground or bottom with power.
To illustrate, in one study conducted by Schubert (2005), a series of words, such as officer or servant, appeared on a screen. Participants had to ascertain, as rapidly as possible, whether the word represents a powerful or powerless group. Interestingly, participants could perform this task more effectively when the powerful groups appeared towards the top, instead of the bottom, of the screen.
The speech style of individuals also affects their perceived power. That is, some individuals do not seem to speak confidently, assertively, and professionally, and instead often use phrases like don?t you think, sort of, and um as well as qualifiers such as this might be a bad idea, but. These individuals are not perceived as powerful or influential, but are thus regarded as able to consult, listen, and cooperate better. Interestingly, leaders who do not use powerful speech are, therefore, perceived as suitable, and even ideal, to coordinate tasks that demand significant cooperation and collaboration--that is, activities in which individuals must work together to fulfill their targets (Fragale, 2006).
When communicating, individuals often compare two people or groups. They might contend that "The number of students in law is more than is the number of students in economics" or "The Vakuna tribe differs from the Maray tribe". In this instance, law is being compared to economics and the Vakuna tribe differs from the Maray tribe. That is, this sentence implies that economics is the norm or standard to which everything else is compared. Similarly, the Maray tribe is the norm or standard to which everything else is compared.
Often, powerful individuals and groups are designated as the norm. That is, individuals often compare one person or group to a powerful counterpart. People or groups that are designated as the norm in a sentence, therefore, are often assumed to be more powerful (Bruckmuller & Abele, 2010).
Bruckmuller and Abele (2010) verified these arguments. In one study, some participants were informed the number of students in law is more than is the number of students in economics. Other participants were informed the number of students in economics is less than is the number of students in law. The two conditions were equivalent, except whether economics or law was designated as the norm or standard was manipulated. Next, participants were asked to rate which field is more powerful, influential, or prestigious. Economics, if the norm in these sentences, was rated as more powerful. Conversely, law, if the norm, was also rated as more powerful. Subsequent studies confirmed this pattern of findings with fictional rather than actual groups, called the Vakuna and Maray.
As Ames, Maissen, and Brockner (2012) argued and showed, if individuals listen to other people well, they are more likely to be perceived as influential. To clarify, people are more inclined to disclose private or sensitive information to someone who seems to listen effectively. Furthermore, people tend to like someone who listens effectively and therefore commit to a friendship with this person. Consequently, if individuals listen well, they accrue vital information as well as form strong coalitions, ultimately increasing their capacity to influence other people, comparable to power.
Ames, Maissen, and Brockner (2012) conducted a study that validates this perspective. In this study, participants completed a questionnaire about a coworker. In particular, they rated the degree to which this person seems influential (e.g., "She or he is able to persuade other people and change their opinions"). They also rated the extent to which this person seems to listen well. The questions included "As a listener, she or he gets others to open up, elaborate, and share information", "She or he listens effectively to criticism and alternative points of view?", "After listening, she or he builds on what she or he has heard, incorporating it into the conversation", "When someone else is speaking, she or he interrupts and/or shows impatience" (reverse-coded), and "When someone is speaking, she or he tends to drift off, appearing distracted or inattentive" (reverse-coded). In addition, individuals rated the degree to which this coworker communicates and expresses opinions well as well as gauged the personality of this person.
As predicted, if people listened well, they were perceived as more influential. This relationship was especially pronounced in participants who could communicate or express themselves well. Furthermore, both openness and agreeableness were associated with listening ability and thus power and influence.
People who are assigned positions of power are not always perceived as powerful. Specifically, if leaders are not competent on a specific task, their subordinates tend to assume a dominant position, as shown by Darioly and Mast (2012). For example, in one study, while solving a problem with an incompetent leader, subordinates were more likely to express or impose their opinions, manifesting dominance. This finding is consistent with expectations states theory (Berger, Fisek, Norman, & Zelditch, 1977), in which hierarchies align with the perceived capacity of people to contribute to a task.
Often, a stigmatized group is assigned a derogatory label. Homosexual people may be called queer, studious individuals may be called nerds, and women may be called bitches, for example. Sometimes, members of this group will invoke this label as well, especially if they perceive their group as powerful: Homosexual individuals may call themselves queer, called reappropriation of stigmatizing labels. After groups reappropriate these stigmatizing labels, members feel more powerful& observers rate these groups as more powerful as well. And the labels do not seem as negative as a consequence.
This set of arguments was proposed and substantiated by a set of ten studies, conducted by Galinsky, Wang, Whitson, Anicich, Hugenberg, and Bodenhausen (2013). In one study, female participants identified a derogatory label associated with women, such as bitch or slut. They next reflected upon a time in which they felt their group, or they as individuals, were assigned power. Finally, they were asked to indicate the likelihood they would utilize this label. When participants perceive their group, but not necessarily themselves as individuals, as powerful, they were more inclined to utilize this derogatory label.
In another study, participants recalled a time in which they utilized a derogatory label to describe their own group or were assigned a derogatory label by someone else. Next, they rated the degree to which they felt powerful. Even memories of utilizing a derogatory label to describe their own group increased their sense of power. A subsequent study showed that other people seem more powerful after they apply a derogatory label to describe themselves--and the label seems less undesirable as a consequence.
When individuals utilize abstract language, rather than primarily allude to concrete examples, they seem more powerful. For example, in one study, conducted by Wakslak, Smith, and Han (2014), participants read descriptions of pictures, such as a woman studying in the library, supposedly written by various people. Sometimes the description referred to concrete, tangible actions or details, such as "Barbara is writing notes". On other occasions, the description referred to abstract or intangible concepts, such as "Barbara is working hard." The participants then rated the writers on various qualities, such as the degree to which they are powerful or dominant or the extent to which they are competent and warm. Writers who alluded to abstract concepts were perceived as more powerful.
A series of six additional studies replicated this finding. This pattern of findings was observed whether people were describing another person, issue in society, flawed product, sound product, or some other matter.
As research has shown, when people feel powerful, they tend to utilize abstract language rather than orient their attention merely to specific details. Consequently, people tend to associate power and abstract language. Indeed, people who are perceived as abstract thinkers--that is, individuals who seem to appreciate the broader picture and understand the meaning behind events--are also assumed to be more powerful.
Power and status, although related, are distinct. When individuals are granted power, they experience two benefits: They can influence other people and they are not constrained by other people either. In contrast, when individuals are granted status, they experience two different benefits (Anderson, Willer, Kilduff, & Brown, 2012): They receive respect from other people and they are regarded as high in rank or value to the community or team.
Admittedly, rank and influence may overlap. Indeed, to assess the status of individuals, in one study, Anderson, Willer, Kilduff, and Brown (2012) asked people to consider their rank, ?in terms of status and influence?.
Interestingly, according to Anderson, Willer, Kilduff, and Brown (2012), not everyone seeks a high status. Although most people want to respected, they do not always seek a high rank. In particular, if they believe their value to the community or team is limited, they feel they are expected to assume a lower rank. Because they are motivated to fulfill these expectations, they actually prefer this lower rank.
Anderson, Willer, Kilduff, and Brown (2012) conducted a series of studies that vindicate this argument. For example, in one study, individuals were told they will participate in a team to complete a task. Before engaging in this task, however, they completed another test alone--a test that supposedly predicts the extent to which they will be able to contribute to the team activity. Participants then received feedback on how everyone in their team, including themselves, performed on this test. Some participants were informed they performed well& other participants were informed they had not performed well compared to their teammates. Finally, they were asked to indicate whether they would prefer to be ranked towards the top of this group, as well as whether they would like to be respected, while they complete the team activity.
Unsurprisingly, all the participants wanted respect. However, if they had not performed well on the test, they did not want to ranked too high on the group task. Additional questions and studies showed that expectations of other people--specifically the belief that only the most valuable members should be ranked highly--mediated this finding. Other concerns, such as illegitimacy or a concern about assuming too many responsibilities, did not underpin this result. As the last study showed, if participants felt the other members were unaware they had performed modestly on the test, and therefore had not formed expectations about their rank, they were not as motivated to seek a low rank.
Some research indicates that status does not appreciably affect wellbeing. To illustrate, socioeconomic status, primarily defined by levels of education, income, and assets, is not strongly correlated to wellbeing. Indeed, provided individuals have attained a modest education and work full time, the relationship between socioeconomic status and wellbeing is negligible or weak (e.g., Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999).
However, as Anderson, Kraus, Galinsky, and Keltner (2012) showed, in contrast to socioeconomic status, individuals who have attained status within their own social environment, such as their friendship group, are more likely to experience better wellbeing. They are more satisfied in life and enjoy more positive emotions. In particular, because of this status, individuals feel they are granted a sense of power, influence, and control--as well as feel accepted by their group. This sense of power and acceptance enhances wellbeing. This benefit of status within a more immediate environment is called the local-ladder effect.
Anderson, Kraus, Galinsky, and Keltner (2012) conducted a series of studies that attest to this argument. Participants first completed a series of measures that gauge their status within their immediate environment. They were asked to indicate the extent to which they feel respected within their group, such as "Others look up to me". In addition, colleagues within their group also rated the degree to which these participants are respected. Next, participants reported their income as well as measures of wellbeing: satisfaction with life and emotions.
Status was highly related to wellbeing, even after controlling income, gender, and ethnicity. Indeed, income was not significantly related to wellbeing. The second study showed this relationship persisted even after controlling extraversion. Furthermore, feelings of power and acceptance mediated this association between status and wellbeing, consistent with the hypotheses. In the third study, when status was elicited, by asking participants to reflect upon people who are lower in rank, wellbeing improved. In the final study, status and wellbeing were examined longitudinally, before and after graduation. Changes in status also predicted changes in wellbeing.
Socioeconomic status, although not strongly related to mental wellbeing, is negatively associated with physical health. For example, as Fuller-Rowell, Evans, and Ong (2012) showed, as income decreases, participants exhibit more physical symptoms of stress, called allostatic load: Their blood pressure is elevated, their overnight levels of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol are high& and their BMI can be excessive as well. The correlation between income and allostatic load is about .2.
To some extent, however, this association between poverty and allostatic load can be ascribed to perceived discrimination. That is, the extent to which individuals perceive themselves as victims of discrimination, because of their background, partly mediated the association between poverty and allostatic load. Presumably, this discrimination evokes feelings of injustice, diminishing a sense of trust and control, aggravating stress, and damaging health.
As Eime et al. (2013) showed, socioeconomic status may also affect participation in sport, ultimately affecting health and wellbeing. To explore this possibility, these researchers assessed whether membership of sporting clubs in girls was related to the Socio-Economic Index for Areas--an index that gauges the socioeconomic status of an area. As predicted, sporting participation was positively associated with socioeconomic status.
According to Kushlev, Dunn, and Ashton-James (2012), some of the benefits of socioeconomic status--the abundance of money and the corresponding sense of independence--can actually compromise a sense of meaning, at least in some settings. Specifically, when socioeconomic status is elevated, and money is abundant, people tend to feel a sense of independence and power. Their goals tend to revolve around achievement, progress, and other endeavors that demand independence. Goals that revolve around relationships and community, such as parenting, will therefore conflict with goals that revolve around independence. Consequently, if they do rear children, their parental goals conflict with their motivation to be independent, and this conflict diminishes their sense of meaning in life.
Kushlev, Dunn, and Ashton-James (2012) reported some studies that validate this premise. In one study, participants described all the episode or events in the previous day, called the day reconstruction method (Kahneman, Krueger, Schkade, Schwarz, & Stone, 2004). For some of these episodes, individuals were asked to indicate the extent to which they experienced a sense of meaning and purpose in life at this time. If their income was elevated, the participants were not as likely to report a sense of meaning while participating in activities that revolve around children, such as "taking care of children". A second study showed that exposure to a brochure that depicted money, rather than flowers, was sufficient to reduce the extent to which participants reported a sense of meaning and happiness while watching a children?'s festival.
Status: Consequentes to relationships
Socioeconomic status tends to comprommise relationship satisfaction. Many of the effects of socioeconomic status on relationships could be ascribed to the notion of planned tangible investments. Specifically, investments differ along two dimensions: whether the investment is tangible or intangible and whether the investment is related to the present or plans for the future. When socioeconomic status is limited, tangible investments, both now and in the future, tend to be limited.
According to Emery and Le (2014), the planned tangible investments in the future are especially vital to commitment in relationships. When couples feel hope they could contribute planned tangible investments in the future, they perceive the relationship is more stable. That is, the hope they can accrue tangible investments together, like a joint bank account, could symbolize or epitomize stability. Without this hope, individuals doubt the stability of their relationship and are not as willing to commit. Consistent with this possibility, Emery and Le (2014) showed the negative association between indices of socioeconomic status, as gauged by education or perceived social class, and relationship quality was mediated by low planned tangible investments.
Compared to people who are low in socioeconomic status, people who are high in socioeconomic status are not as inclined to depend on their intuition or emotions to reach moral decisions. Instead, they apply moral rules, such as utilitarianism and other forms of consequentialism.
For example, in one study, conducted by Cote, Piff, and Willer (2013), participants first answered some questions about their socioeconomic status or social class, such as whether they were relatively wealthy while young. Next, they responded to the classical footbridge dilemma. In essence, they needed to decide whether to push a large stranger off a bridge to prevent a train from crashing into five workers below. In general, people who were high in social class were more willing hypothetically to push the large stranger off a bridge. This decision saves the most lives but is usually regarded as intuitively inappropriate. This pattern was observed after controlling age, gender, ethnicity, religiosity, and political orientation. Subsequent studies indicated that diminished empathy underpinned this relationship between high social class and utilitarian reasoning.
Presumably, when socioeconomic status is elevated, individuals can be more independent. Because they are not as reliant on other people, they do not need to monitor emotions and reactions as carefully. They are, therefore, not as empathic. Once this empathy dissipates, individuals utilize logical rules, such as the need to save the most people, and they dismiss some emotional considerations and visceral reactions.
To a significant extent, the intelligence of adults can be ascribed to genetics. That is, the intelligence of identical twins tends to be more similar than is the intelligence of non-identical twins. Interestingly, this effect of genetics is especially pronounced in people whose socioeconomic status was elevated during their childhood. That is, as Bates, Lewis, and Weiss (2013) showed, if their parents had earned a high income and their jobs were prestigious, the intelligence of identical twins, as measured by a range of tests, is especially likely to be similar as well as elevated.
These findings imply that specific genes may amplify the benefits of a supportive environment. In addition, this joint effect of beneficial alleles and supportive environments during childhood seem to persist throughout life. These findings support the bioecological model of intelligence (e.g., Bronfenbrenner & Ceci, 1994) in which rich environments, replete with opportunities, maximizes the effect of genes on development. In contrast, deprived environments can stifle the impact of these genes.
Akinola and Mendes (2013) showed that social status affects the neurobiological responses of individuals in stressful circumstances. Specifically, in response to stress, people who feel high in status tend to show elevated levels of cardiac output per minute, reflecting cardiac efficiency--common when people experience a sense of challenge and approach rather than threat or avoidance. They also exhibit elevated levels of testosterone
In the first study, participants were members of the police department. To evoke stress, they were instructed to complete a role play in which they needed to interact with an actor who portrayed a disgruntled citizen who needed to be placated. To gauge status, individuals indicated their ranking on a ladder relative to either other police officers or other US citizens. ECG and saliva samples were analyzed at various times in the study. Finally, individuals indicated the extent to which they perceived the task as demanding and the degree to which they feel they have developed the resources to cope with this task. Social status relative to other police officers was positively associated with cardiac output, heart rate, and levels of testosterone--a hormone that corresponds to increases in perceived dominance and power.
A subsequent study replicated these findings, even after status was manipulated, rather than measured, by allocating people to the role of leader or support person. When people were assigned to positions of leadership, they not only exhibited greater cardiac output and testosterone levels, but also lower levels of pre-ejection period and heart rate variability, indicative of more sympathetic, and less parasympathetic, activity respectively.
Besides socioeconomic indicators such as income, education, and managerial position, other measures have been administered to gauge status. Anderson, Kraus, Galinsky, and Keltner (2012), for example, asked participants to answer five questions that assess the degree to which they are respected within their immediate group. These questions included "I have a high level of respect in others' eyes," "Others admire me," "Others look up to me," "I have high social standing," and "I am held in high regard by others." Internal consistency was .93. Alternatively, participants can complete this measure for different environments separately, such as family, friends, and their work group (Anderson, Kraus, Galinsky, & Keltner , 2012).
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Last Update: 6/27/2016