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Give a person Power and he/she will show interpersonal sensitivity: The phenomenon and its why and when


Schmid Mast, M; Jonas, Klaus; Hall, J (2009). Give a person Power and he/she will show interpersonal sensitivity: The phenomenon and its why and when. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(5):835-850.

Abstract

The goal of the present research was to investigate whether high or low power leads to more interpersonal
sensitivity and what potentially mediates and moderates this effect. In Study 1, 76 participants in either
a high- or low-power position interacted; in Study 2, 134 participants were implicitly primed with either
high- or low-power or neutral words; and in Study 3, 96 participants were asked to remember a situation
in which they felt high or low power (plus a control condition). In Study 4, 157 participants were told
to identify with either an egoistic, empathic, or neutral leadership style. In all studies, interpersonal
sensitivity, defined as correctly assessing other people, was then measured using different instruments in
each study. Consistently, high power resulted in more interpersonal sensitivity than low power. Feeling
respected and proud was partially responsible for this effect. Empathic power as a personality trait was
related to more interpersonal sensitivity, and high-power individuals who adopted an empathic instead of
an egoistic leadership style were more interpersonally sensitive.
Keywords: power, interpersonal sensitivity, hierarchy, social perception, accuracy

Abstract

The goal of the present research was to investigate whether high or low power leads to more interpersonal
sensitivity and what potentially mediates and moderates this effect. In Study 1, 76 participants in either
a high- or low-power position interacted; in Study 2, 134 participants were implicitly primed with either
high- or low-power or neutral words; and in Study 3, 96 participants were asked to remember a situation
in which they felt high or low power (plus a control condition). In Study 4, 157 participants were told
to identify with either an egoistic, empathic, or neutral leadership style. In all studies, interpersonal
sensitivity, defined as correctly assessing other people, was then measured using different instruments in
each study. Consistently, high power resulted in more interpersonal sensitivity than low power. Feeling
respected and proud was partially responsible for this effect. Empathic power as a personality trait was
related to more interpersonal sensitivity, and high-power individuals who adopted an empathic instead of
an egoistic leadership style were more interpersonally sensitive.
Keywords: power, interpersonal sensitivity, hierarchy, social perception, accuracy

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57 citations in Web of Science®
102 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:November 2009
Deposited On:29 Jan 2010 12:48
Last Modified:06 Dec 2017 22:42
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0022-3514
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/a0016234

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