Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

When the Powerless Rise Up

19.06.2008
Power leads to positive action, but only when acquired legitimately

In an effort to reconcile the science stating that power leads to action and lack of power leads to inhibition -- despite constant historical reminders of the powerless rising up and taking action -- new research in the June issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that the legitimacy of the power relationship is an important determinant of whether power leads to action.

The research, led in part by Kellogg School of Management Professor Adam Galinsky, sought to determine at what point the powerless rise up and take action. Galinsky collaborated with psychologist Joris Lammers of Tilburg University and Ernestine Gordijn and Sabine Otten of the University of Groninengen on the study. These findings are the first to clarify when, and lend insight into why, power leads to behavioral approach, or action.

According to the researchers, when power is acquired or wielded legitimately (e.g., following a fair election or when actions are within authority), the likelihood for a successful cooperative environment is high, with the powerful leading and the powerless following. However, if power is borne of illegitimate means (in fixed elections or self-interested actions that exceed authority) this can motivate force and resistance from the powerless.

“Power activates a person’s behavioral approach system and underlies our motivation to act, while powerlessness activates our behavioral inhibition system to restrict action and risk-taking,” said Galinsky. “But, in illegitimate power scenarios, the powerless are more likely to act without direction in an attempt to change the situation, and the powerful may inhibit their actions for fear of losing their undeserved seat at the top.”

In a series of experiments, the research team investigated the effect that legitimate or illegitimate power has on approach behavior. The results in this month’s Psychological Science are revealing. The research shows that when given legitimate power, participants were more likely to take action than those legitimately assigned to a position of powerlessness. When power was conceived illegitimately, the powerful no longer took more action and risks than the powerless. This increased action also manifested itself in various other ways, such as a higher propensity to haggle when making a purchase.

In one study, when women were assigned to either the position of boss or employee legitimately (based on their scores on a leadership test), the powerful took more risks than the powerless. But when these women scored highly on the leadership test but were told that the researchers preferred to have a man in the position, the employees took more risks than the women assigned to illegitimate power (they had scored poorly but the researchers assigned them to the boss position because they wanted a women in charge). Furthermore, these effects were so robust that even if participants simply thought back about similar events that happened in the past (such as a student becoming president of her fraternity after fixed elections) the same effects occurred.

“These findings demonstrate that how power is conceptualized, acquired and wielded determines its psychological consequences,” conclude the authors.

MORE INFORMATION: To see the full article, published in the June 2008 issue of Psychological Science, or to arrange an interview with Professor Adam Galinsky, contact Meg Washburn at the Kellogg School of Management at (773) 848 - 4461, or at m-washburn@kellogg.northwestern.edu.

About the Kellogg School of Management

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University was founded in 1908 and is widely recognized as a global leader in management education. The school, located just outside of Chicago, is home to a renowned, research-oriented faculty and MBA students from around the globe. The Kellogg School’s academic portfolio includes the Full-Time, Part-Time and Executive MBA Programs and the nondegree Executive Education Program. The school offers three joint-degree programs: the JD-MBA, MD-MBA and the Master of Management and Manufacturing (MBA-MEM). Additionally, the Kellogg School offers an Executive MBA Program in Miami and has alliances with business schools in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Canada. To learn more, visit www.kellogg.northwestern.edu.

About Psychological Science

Psychological Science is ranked among the top 10 general psychology journals for impact by the Institute for Scientific Information. For a copy of the article “Illegitimacy Moderates the Effects of Power on Approach” and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Catherine West at (202) 293-9300 x131 or cwest@psychologicalscience.org.

Catherine West | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu
http://www.northwestern.edu
http://www.psychologicalscience.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>