Less Power or Powerless? Egocentric Empathy Gaps and the Irony of Having Little vs. No Power in Social Decision Making
Posted: 15 Dec 2008
Date Written: November 9, 2008
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.
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