Less Power or Powerless? Egocentric Empathy Gaps and the Irony of Having Little vs. No Power in Social Decision Making

Posted: 15 Dec 2008

See all articles by Michel Handgraaf

Michel Handgraaf

Wageningen UR - Economics of Consumers and Households; Columbia University - Center for Research on Environmental Decisions

Eric van Dijk

Leiden University

Riël C. Vermunt

Leiden University - Social and Organizational Psychology

Henk Wilke

University of Leiden, Department of Psychology

Carsten K. W. De Dreu

University of Amsterdam - Department of Psychology

Date Written: November 9, 2008

Abstract

We investigate the effect of power differences and associated expectations in social decision-making. Using a modified ultimatum game, we show that allocators lower their offers to recipients when the power difference shifts in favor of the allocator. Remarkably, however, when recipients are completely powerless, offers increase. This effect is mediated by a change in framing of the situation: when the opponent is without power, feelings of social responsibility are evoked. On the recipient side, we show that recipients do not anticipate these higher outcomes resulting from powerlessness. They prefer more power over less, expecting higher outcomes when they are more powerful, especially when less power entails powerlessness. Results are discussed in relation to empathy gaps and social responsibility.

Suggested Citation

Handgraaf, Michel and van Dijk, Eric and Vermunt, Riel and Wilke, Henk and De Dreu, Carsten K. W., Less Power or Powerless? Egocentric Empathy Gaps and the Irony of Having Little vs. No Power in Social Decision Making (November 9, 2008). IACM 21st Annual Conference Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1298606 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1298606

Michel Handgraaf

Wageningen UR - Economics of Consumers and Households ( email )

Wageningen
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.ech.wur.nl/UK/Staff/Michel+Handgraaf/

Columbia University - Center for Research on Environmental Decisions ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Eric van Dijk

Leiden University ( email )

Postbus 9500
Leiden, 2300 RA
Netherlands

Riel Vermunt

Leiden University - Social and Organizational Psychology ( email )

Leiden, 2300 RA
Netherlands

Henk Wilke (Contact Author)

University of Leiden, Department of Psychology ( email )

Postbus 9500
2300 RA Leiden
Netherlands

Carsten K. W. De Dreu

University of Amsterdam - Department of Psychology ( email )

Roetersstraat 15
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands
+31 20 525 6865 (Phone)
+31 20 639 0531 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.psy.uva.nl/ResEdu/AO/People/Dreu/deDreu.html

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