Abstract thinking increases one's sense of power
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Number of pages
SourceJournal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 2, (2008), pp. 378-385
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI SCP
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
SubjectBehaviour Change and Well-being
One's subjective sense of power often has greater influence on behavior than the amount of power one actually possesses. We propose that this sense of power may be determined in part by one's style of information processing. As abstract thought is less constraining than concrete thought, and having power leads to more abstract thought [Smith, P. K., & Trope, Y. (2006). You focus on the forest when you're in charge of the trees: Power priming and abstract information processing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 578–596.], we predicted that thinking more abstractly would make one feel more powerful. Indeed, in four experiments, abstract thought led to a greater sense of power, greater preference for high-power roles, and more feelings of control over the environment, relative to both a concrete-thought and a control condition. This bidirectional relationship between power and abstract thinking suggests one way in which power hierarchies may be unintentionally perpetuated.
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