The Detrimental Effects of Power on Confidence, Advice Taking, and Accuracy

14 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2011 Last revised: 2 Oct 2014

See all articles by Kelly E. See

Kelly E. See

University of Colorado at Denver - Business School; New York University - Department of Management and Organizations

Elizabeth Wolfe Morrison

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business; New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior

Naomi B. Rothman

Lehigh University

Jack B. Soll

Duke University - Management

Date Written: August 2, 2011

Abstract

Incorporating input from others can enhance decision quality, yet often people do not effectively utilize advice. We propose that greater power increases the propensity to discount advice, and that a key mechanism explaining this effect is elevated confidence in one’s judgment. We investigate the relationships across four studies: a field survey where working professionals rated their own power and confidence and were rated by coworkers on their level of advice taking; an advice taking task where power and confidence were self-reported; and two advice taking experiments where power was manipulated. Results consistently showed a negative relationship between power and advice taking, and evidence of mediation through confidence. The fourth study also revealed that higher power participants were less accurate in their final judgments. Power can thus exacerbate the tendency for people to overweight their own initial judgment, such that the most powerful decision makers can also be the least accurate.

Keywords: advice, power, judgment and decision making, confidence, performance-accuracy, multi-method, behavioral

JEL Classification: D8, M00

Suggested Citation

See, Kelly E. and Morrison, Elizabeth Wolfe and Rothman, Naomi B. and Soll, Jack B., The Detrimental Effects of Power on Confidence, Advice Taking, and Accuracy (August 2, 2011). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 116, No. 2, pp. 272-285, November 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1903943

Kelly E. See (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Denver - Business School ( email )

1475 Lawrence Street
Suite 5015
Denver, CO 80204
United States

New York University - Department of Management and Organizations ( email )

44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

Elizabeth Wolfe Morrison

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior ( email )

44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

Naomi B. Rothman

Lehigh University ( email )

621 Taylor Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
United States

Jack B. Soll

Duke University - Management ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
(919) 660-7858 (Phone)

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