Publication

The blind leading: Power reduces awareness of constraints
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 579-582.

Whitson, JA, KA Liljenquist, AD Galinsky, JC Magee, DH Gruenfeld, & B Cadena.
01/01/2013

Previous research has found that power increases awareness of goal-relevant over goal-irrelevant information. However, this work has failed to distinguish between goal-facilitating and goal-inhibiting information, both of which are goal relevant. The current research investigated whether power increases the cognitive resources devoted to goal-facilitating information or reduces the cognitive resources devoted to goal-constraining information. Two experiments found that, compared to low-power individuals, high-power individuals recalled less goal-constraining information and generated fewer potential constraints that would prevent the protagonist of a story from completing his goal. However, there was no difference between the powerful and powerless in their recall or generation of goal-facilitating information. These results suggest that the powerful are more likely to act on their goals because the constraints that normally inhibit action are less psychologically present for them.