Psychological science’s preoccupation with the powerful
Conference Proceeding Article
A pervasive assumption in the social power literature is that powerfulness is the driving causal force behind power’s far-reaching effects. This preoccupation with the powerful has led to the proliferation of experimental designs that contrast high power to either low power or a control condition. We review evidence suggesting that this convention poses both theoretical and methodological challenges. Across a content analysis, an experiment, and a large-scale meta- analysis, we find that (1) few studies allow for substantive inferences about powerlessness; (2) although control conditions are needed to interpret effect directionality, effects of studies comparing only high and low power tend to be attributed to powerfulness; and (3) comparing high power to a control condition in the absence of low power weakens construct validity and leads to an overestimation of the high-power effect. Our findings have profound implications for social power, experimental design, and other fields in psychology, management, and marketing.
Experimental design, Meta-analysis, Power
Cognition and Perception | Organizational Behavior and Theory
Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources
Academy of Management Proceedings: 2016, Anaheim, CA
Academy of Management
City or Country
SCHAERER, Michael; DU PLESSIS, Christilene; YAP, Andy J.; and THAU, Stefan.
Psychological science’s preoccupation with the powerful. (2016). Academy of Management Proceedings: 2016, Anaheim, CA. Research Collection Lee Kong Chian School Of Business.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/lkcsb_research/5280