Power doesn't always magnify personality

   Apr 13, 11:39 am

Washington, April 13 (ANI): Abraham Lincoln had said, "If you want to test a man's character, give him power."

It's a truism that power magnifies personality-but a new study has revealed that it's not true.

"Before, people thought that disposition is linked to will; it's mainly internally driven," said University College London psychologist Ana Guinote, who conducted the study with Mario Weick of the University of Kent and London doctoral student Alice Cai.

"Our findings show that the environment crucially triggers dispositional or counter-dispositional behaviour in powerful people," Guinote stated.

Research shows that dispositions- the tendency to act and think in particular ways -can be superseded by other responses, including those the person rarely does or thinks.

But do the powerful, who are usually in control, stick to their dispositional guns?

In three experiments, participants were given power roles-as a manager or employee, a consequential or trivial adviser on university policy-then put to tasks testing whether their habitual natures ruled.

In the first, participants were tested to tease out traits they consider important and those that are far from their consciousness.

Participants with strong tendencies to see others as rude, honest, or sociable then played a word game. For half of them the game contained neutral words like paper and board; for the rest, the game's words brought out "counter-dispositions"-characteristics they didn't normally consider.

Those words were also relevant to the subsequent task: judging people through descriptive sentences. For instance: "When Donald met his friend he told him he was quite smelly." Was he honest or rude? The neutrally primed power-holders judged others more strongly in their typical ways. But when descriptions outside their usual thinking were brought to mind, the power-holders used those instead. The lower-powered people's perceptions remained constant.

In another experiment, participants wrote down charities they liked. A week later they chose which they'd donate to, either on a blank screen or from a list. On a blank screen, power increased the likelihood of picking favored charities. When given the list, though, the powerful chose other organizations; those lacking power weren't swayed.

The third experiment involved people with selfish or cooperative dispositions distributing valuable tokens to themselves and others. In the neutral condition, the selfish power-holders hoarded the tokens; the sociable ones shared. When primed to act differently, this was no longer the case.

"Power-holders have to make quick decisions and respond to opportunities, so they often deploy automatic cognitive processes," explained Guinote.

Power-holders more strongly express their characters, but they are also susceptible to manipulations of environmental cues-much more than less-powerful people, who act deliberatively and have less extreme but more consistent preferences.

The implications? "Organizational culture and social norms have an incredible power to influence power-holders." But no Orwellian manipulation is needed. "It's enough to have a culture around them or tasks to do that call for desirable behaviours."

Culture can bring out collaboration or authoritarianism, sociability or greed in the people who wield influence and power.

The findings appeared in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. (ANI)

CO2 emissions set to reach all time high record of 40 bln tones in 2014 Sep 22, 10:59 am
Washington, Sept 22 (ANI): A new study has revealed that global Carbon dioxide emissions are set to reach a record high of 40 billion tones in 2014.
Full Story
Plant-eating 'King Nose' dinosaurs roamed Utah plains 75m yrs ago Sep 20, 12:28 am
Washington, Sept 20 (ANI): A new research has revealed about the discovery of a hadrosaur species with a truly distinctive nasal profile that lived approximately 75 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period.
Full Story
New gene associated with 'diabetes' traits found Sep 20, 12:00 am
Washington, Sept 20 (ANI): In a new study, scientists have discovered a gene that is linked to traits involved in diabetes.
Full Story
Stem cells act as 'first aid kits' in repairing damaged immune response Sep 19, 6:30 am
Washington, Sept 19 (ANI): A new study has revealed that stem cell therapy can also work through a mechanism other than cell replacement.
Full Story
Comments

LATEST STORIES
TOP VIDEO STORIES
PHOTO GALLERY