Vicarious Power: The Interpersonal Transference of Power
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Previous research on power has predominantly focused on power as an intrapersonal process. Relatively little research, however, has investigated the interpersonal transference of power. In the present research, I documented the vicarious power effect – people vicariously feel more powerful when their psychological connections with powerful figures were made salient. Compared to participants in the control conditions, who wrote about either a non-powerful figure with whom they felt psychologically connected or a powerful figure with whom they did not feel connected, participants writing about a powerful figure with whom they felt psychologically connected reported a higher level of power. This effect was true for both a real-life powerful figure (Study 1) and a powerful fictional character (Study 2). In Study 3, I found that, compared to participants in the control conditions (non-powerful but close, powerful but not close), participants writing about their experience of taking a picture together with a close and powerful person (close and powerful condition) made a lower counteroffer in a seller-buyer negotiation task. Furthermore, in Study 4, I found that, compared to participants in the control conditions (non-powerful but close, powerful but not close), participants writing about a close and powerful person (close and powerful condition) were more likely to engage in self-beneficial lying behaviors and less likely to engage in other-beneficial lying behaviors. The research sheds light on vicarious psychological processes in general. Remaining issues and directions for future research are discussed.