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 Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

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: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>