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SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities - Logo
In Charge or in Control?

In Charge or in Control?

principal investigator
Aleksandra Cisłak-Wójcik
Ph.D. / Associate Professor

Psychologist, researching influence of power on behavior and in-group identification

Full bio
project value: PLN 323,219
funding source : National Science Center
discipline: psychology
research center: Institute of Psychology
location: Warsaw
duration: 2015 2016 2017 2018

Having power over others or being subjected to power exercised by others is almost an everyday experience for large segments of the society. Therefore, power relationships have broad social consequences. Researchers from SWPS University will study the short-and long-term effects of power on individuals who are in positions of authority.

 

Research project

IN CHARGE OR IN CONTROL?

Short- and Long-Term Effects of Personal Control and Control Over Others



Research Unit
UNI SWPS english
Grant Amount
323 219 PLN
Funding Source
NCN logo poziom en2

Duration of Research Project: February 2015–November 2018

Having power over others or being subjected to power exercised by others is almost an everyday experience for large segments of the society. Therefore, power relationships have broad social consequences. Researchers from SWPS University will study the short-and long-term effects of power on individuals who are in positions of authority.

Project Objectives

Gap in Current Theory of Power

The current psychological literature, devoted to this field of study, suggests two unresolved problems. The first problem concerns the possible scope of metamorphic effects of power. Previous studies in this field, employed the experimental design, which traced the cause-and-effect relationships, however allowed to track only short-term changes of one’s behavior. As the result, it is still unknown whether having power over others can actually change an individual (i.e. their more stable characteristics, beliefs and views) or whether it can only impact their short-term behavior. The second problem is related to the mixed (i.e. positive and negative) effects of power. Study results show that having power over others is associated with both, positive and negative impact on society, but only positive effects on the individuals who hold power. The mixed effects of power are still unexplained and require further research.

Research Direction

The researchers hypothesize that personal sense of power, stemming from the position occupied in the social hierarchy, is multidimensional. It comprises both positive (a sense of personal control and autonomy related to responsibility) and negative aspects (a sense of control over others associated with a sense of superiority and impunity). It could explain the mixed results of power on individuals, described in psychological literature.

Apart from testing this hypothesis, researchers will also investigate the scope of changes occurring in individuals, who hold positions of power. They will examine whether the behavioral changes are only short-term or whether they also impact more permanent characteristics, such as beliefs or personality of these individuals.

In psychological literature, the impact of power on beliefs, views, and the personality of people who are in positions of power is called ‘metamorphic effect of power’. It means that "power can transform the powerholder's views of the world" (Kipnis, Castell, Gergen, & Mauch, 1976, p. 127)

Methodology

The project consists of two research lines: a survey line (Study 1) and an experimental line (Studies 2,3,4). The studies will be preceded by a series of pilot studies, which will test the manipulations and scales employed in the survey and the experiments.

Study 1 will be conducted using a longitudinal design (3 waves scheduled about 5-6 months apart). The number of respondents in the first wave will equal N = 420 and the target number of people who will participate in all three waves, N = 100-120. The researcher will control the initial position of an individual in the hierarchy. They will measure the subjective sense of power, the sense of personal control and control over others. They will examine social effects of power (e.g. egocentric perspective, lowered empathy, increased self-esteem, tendency to evaluate others more negatively, and stereotyping), and social beliefs, at the time of Studies 1, 2 and 3.

Additionally, the researchers plan to conduct confirmatory factor analyses, in order to test the hypothesized two-factorial structure of the feeling of power and to test cross-lagged autoregressive models, in order to track longitudinal effects of personal control and control over others. In Studies 2, 3 and 4 they will manipulate feelings of control over own outcomes and over others' outcomes, independently of each other, in order to verify the cause-and-effect relationships.

Application of Research Results

The relations of power are present in everyday interactions between people. Therefore, investigating the underlying structure of power and identifying its socially beneficial and detrimental aspects is an important and worthwhile research task. It is especially important to study the long-term effects of power, which have not been fully examined so far. The results of this research will contribute to the development and refinement of the theoretical concept of power. They will also enable the analysis of the internal structure of personal sense of power. Overall, the project will have practical implications for organizational psychology.

Research Team

Frankowska, Natalia
Bio
Nie
Permanent employee
Tak
Specialization
Psychologist
First and last name
Natalia Frankowska
Academic degree or title
Ph.D.
Role in the Faculty
{"funkcja-na-wydziale0":{"Funkcja":"","Nazwa w mianowniku":"Faculty of Psychology in Warsaw"}}
Role in the Department
{"funkcja-w-katedrze0":{"Funkcja":"","Nazwa w mianowniku":"Department of Social Psychology"}}
Role in the Institute
{"funkcja-w-instytucie0":{"Funkcja":"","Nazwa w mianowniku":"Institute of Psychology"}}
Role in the Research Center
{"funkcja-w-centrum0":{"Funkcja":"","Nazwa w mianowniku":"Center of Research on Cognition an Behavior"}}
City
warszawa
Discipline
psychology
Faculty
Array
Institute
Array
Position
adiunkt
Ph.D. Natalia Frankowskapsycholog społeczna
Professor
Peter Schmidt
Ph.D.
Aleksandra Cichocka
M.A.
Adrian Wójcik