"The aim of this research was to help power holders become conscious of one of the pitfalls leaders often fall prey to," said Fast, an assistant professor of management and organization.
"The overall sense of control that comes with power tends to make people feel overconfident in their ability to make good decisions," Fast said.
To explore this tendency, Fast and his research team conducted multiple experiments. In one, they asked their subjects to bet money on the accuracy of their own knowledge. First, to get people in touch with feelings of either power or powerlessness, participants were asked to recall and write detailed accounts of an experience when they either held or lacked power over other individuals. They were then asked to answer a series of six factual questions and to set a "confidence boundary" on how well they performed.
"What we found across the studies is that power leads to over-precision, which is the tendency to overestimate the accuracy of personal knowledge," said Fast. In the study, those who were made to feel powerful actually lost money betting on their knowledge. In contrast, those who didn't feel powerful were less risky with their bets and didn't lose money.
"This was one piece of puzzle, the idea that a subjective feeling of power leads to over-precision," Fast said.
To mitigate this tendency, Fast and the research team hypothesized that blocking the subjective sense of power among high-power participants – by directing attention to the limits of their personal competence – would cause their overconfidence to go away.
To test this, the team manipulated power by assigning participants to high-power or low-power roles. However, they also manipulated the participants' feelings of competence by asking them a series of yes/no "leadership aptitude" questions. Once they had answered the questions, each was randomly assigned a false score—ranging from "poor" to "excellent" — via a computer. They were then told that their scores reflected their aptitude for leadership. Those with "low" scores were told that they "may not be as competent as others."
After receiving their results, participants were asked to bet money on how well they would answer six trivia questions.
Once again, powerful participants lost more money, with the notable effect that those who were led to doubt their own competence did not. In other words, it is when power holders feel subjectively powerful that they are most vulnerable to overconfident decision-making.
Top decision-makers find ways to avoid this problem. "The most effective leaders bring people around them who critique them," Fast said. "As a power holder, the smartest thing you might ever do is bring people together who will inspect your thinking and who aren't afraid to challenge your ideas."
The irony is that, according to the findings just described, the more powerful leaders become, the less of this help they will think they need.
"Power is an elixir, a self-esteem enhancing drug that surges through the brain telling you how great your ideas are," said Galinsky of the Kellogg School. "This leaves the powerful vulnerable to making overconfident decisions that lead them to dead-end alleys."
Amy Blumenthal | EurekAlert!
Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds
28.11.2017 | University of Chicago Medical Center
The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine
13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
13.12.2017 | Life Sciences