Group Membership, Status, and Social Power Preference1


  • 1

    The study was supported by a grant from the Israel Foundations Trustees (October 2000).

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Joseph Schwarzwald or to Meni Koslowsky, Department of Psychology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan 52900, Israel. E-mail: jschwarze@; or


The power literature supports the notion that power-base preferences can serve as a means for gaining advantage over others, thereby satisfying the personal self. Here, we inquired whether the use of power bases also serves as a means for gaining in-group advantage, thereby satisfying the social self. A 2 × 3 × 2 design, including group membership (in-group/out-group), influencing agent's status (low, same, high), and gender as independent variables was employed. After reading scenarios describing work-situation conflicts that differed by the relative status of the influencing agent and group membership of the target person, students and workers completed the Interpersonal Power Inventory for assessing power usage. In general, participants attributed greater use of harsh bases toward the out-group. Status effects were obtained for in-group targets and were less clear for out-group targets. The discussion addresses theoretical implications for both the power interaction model and social identity theory, as well as practical ones for intergroup relations in organizations.