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The University of Southampton

Power Increases Perceptions of Similarity between Self and Others

Mario Weick
School of Psychology, University of Kent at Canterbury, UK

Current social cognitive approaches maintain that elevated power fosters a sense of self distinct from others. The present research challenges this assumption. Drawing on a social identity perspective, a series of studies tested the hypothesis that high power increases, and low power reduces, the perceived overlap between self and others. Using different operationalisations of power, and examining self- and other-perceptions in a variety of contexts with a range of measures, power consistently augmented people’s perceptions of similarity between self and others. These effects emerged irrespectively of independent vs. interdependent self-construal, self-clarity, or need to belong. While power holders thought others were more like them, low power individuals demonstrated little insights into these cognitions. Contrary to mainstream socio-cognitive theorising, these findings converge in showing that power does not convey a greater sense of distinctiveness of self.

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