"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!
Researchers simplify tiny structures' construction drip by drip
12.11.2018 | Princeton University, Engineering School
Mandibular movement monitoring may help improve oral sleep apnea devices
06.11.2018 | Elsevier
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences