Tuesday, January 10, 2017

From Power to Inaction.

An interesting little piece from Durso et al. on a consequence of feeling powerful (The paper appears to be open source, so you can note the details of the two experiments, involving the usual gaggle of undergraduate psychology students used as subjects and given credit for their participation.)
Research has shown that people who feel powerful are more likely to act than those who feel powerless, whereas people who feel ambivalent are less likely to act than those whose reactions are univalent (entirely positive or entirely negative). But what happens when powerful people also are ambivalent? On the basis of the self-validation theory of judgment, we hypothesized that power and ambivalence would interact to predict individuals’ action. Because power can validate individuals’ reactions, we reasoned that feeling powerful strengthens whatever reactions people have during a decision. It can strengthen univalent reactions and increase action orientation, as shown in past research. Among people who hold an ambivalent judgment, however, those who feel powerful would be less action oriented than those who feel powerless. Two experiments provide evidence for this hypothesized interactive effect of power and ambivalence on individuals’ action tendencies during both positive decisions (promoting an employee; Experiment 1) and negative decisions (firing an employee; Experiment 2). In summary, when individuals’ reactions are ambivalent, power increases the likelihood of inaction.

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