Power, understanding and knowledge

I’m wondering why the facts and ideas generated in the abstract below aren’t higher up the order of proceedings in such things as teaching the economics of industrial organisation, the economics of information. What Hayekian has focused on this? Pathetic that I’ve not seen this material before – which is something for which I’m mostly responsible of course. But you’ll be hearing more from me on this vein of literature.

Four experiments and a correlational study explored the relationship between power and perspective taking. In Experiment 1, participants primed with high power were more likely than those primed with low power to draw an E on their forehead in a self-oriented direction, demonstrating less of an inclination to spontaneously adopt another person’s visual perspective. In Experiments 2a and 2b, high-power participants were less likely than low-power participants to take into account that other people did not possess their privileged knowledge, a result suggesting that power leads individuals to anchor too heavily on their own vantage point, insufficiently adjusting to others’ perspectives. In Experiment 3, high-power participants were less accurate than control participants
in determining other people’s emotion expressions; these results suggest a power-induced impediment to experiencing empathy. An additional study found a negative relationship between individual difference measures of power and perspective taking. Across these studies, power was associated with a reduced tendency to comprehend how other people see, think, and feel.

From the Abstract of “Power and Perspectives Not Taken”, by Adam D. Galinsky, Joe C. Magee, M. Ena Inesi, and Deborah H Gruenfeld, 2006, which you can read here (pdf).

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2 Responses to Power, understanding and knowledge

  1. desipis says:

    From the previous study where the priming method used in all three of these experiments is details:

    (high-power condition)

    Please recall a particular incident in which you had power over
    another individual or individuals.

    (low-power condition)

    Please recall a particular incident in which someone else had power
    over you.

    The way the prompts mix the subject/object position of the “you” and “someone else”/”another individual” is pretty careless. I think that alone is sufficient to explain the shift in focus from self-perspective to other-perspective, leaving the connection to the power rather questionable.

  2. Peter Taylor says:

    These results explain the gulf between what ‘the people’ want governments to do, and what governments are prepared to legislate for.

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