Get access

Power in group contexts: The influence of group status on promotion and prevention decision making


Daan Scheepers, Institute for Psychological Research, Social and Organizational Psychology Unit, Leiden University, P.O. Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands (e-mail:


This research examines how group status affects the impact of individual power positions on promotion versus prevention choices in group decision making. We consider that high power not only implies control, but also indicates responsibility for the achievement of group goals. We argue that the nature of these goals depends on the current status of the group. In Experiment 1, individuals who were accorded high power showed more promotion-oriented decisions in the low group status condition while decisions were more prevention oriented under high group status. Experiment 2 replicated these effects, and further demonstrated that they only emerge when those in power are explicitly made accountable for the achievement of group goals. These results are discussed in relation to regulatory focus theory, power theories, and the role of social identities and group goals in group dynamics.