The Effects of Social Power on Goal Content and Goal Striving: A Situated Perspective



In this article, we integrate recent findings on the ways power affects goal pursuit. We review literature suggesting that power has two unique effects on goal pursuit: it affects the goals individuals choose to pursue, and the ways they pursue them. In short, we maintain that power-holders prefer goals that suit their privileged positions – reward oriented and hierarchy-maintenance goals – as well as goals that come easily to mind because they are chronically accessible or afforded in the situation. We go on to show that powerful individuals exhibit better self-regulation during goal striving than powerless individuals, independently of goal content. Finally, we review conditions that reverse the effects of power on goal pursuit.