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Power increases performance in a social evaluation situation as a result of decreased stress responses

Authors

  • Petra C. Schmid,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Neuchatel, Neuchatel, Switzerland
    • Psychology Department, New York University, New York, USA
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  • Marianne Schmid Mast

    1. Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Neuchatel, Neuchatel, Switzerland
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Correspondence to: Petra C. Schmid, New York University, 6 Washington Place, New York, NY 10003.

E-mail: pcs308@nyu.edu

Abstract

We tested whether power reduces responses related to social stress and thus increases performance evaluation in social evaluation situations. We hypothesized and found that thinking about having power reduced fear of negative evaluation and physiological arousal during a self-presentation task (Studies 1 and 2). In Study 2, we also showed that simply thinking about having power made individuals perform better in a social evaluation situation. Our results confirmed our hypotheses that the mechanism explaining this power–performance link was that high power participants felt less fear of negative evaluation. The reduced fear of negative evaluation generated fewer signs of behavioral nervousness, which caused their performance to be evaluated more positively (serial mediation). Simply thinking of having power can therefore have important positive consequences for a person in an evaluation situation in terms of how he or she feels and how he or she is evaluated. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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