Power Affects Performance When the Pressure Is On: Evidence for Low-Power Threat and High-Power Lift
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Forthcoming
32 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2016
Date Written: August 12, 2016
The current research examines how power affects performance in pressure-filled contexts. We present low-power-threat and high-power-lift effects, whereby performance in high-stakes situations suffers or is enhanced depending on one’s power; that is, the power inherent to a situational role can produce effects similar to stereotype threat and lift. Three negotiations experiments demonstrate that role-based power affects outcomes, but only when the negotiation is diagnostic of ability and therefore pressure-filled. We link these outcomes conceptually to threat and lift effects by showing that: a) role power affects performance more strongly when the negotiation is diagnostic of ability, and b) underperformance disappears when the low-power negotiator has an opportunity to self-affirm. These results suggest that stereotype threat and lift effects may represent a more general phenomenon: when the stakes are raised high, relative power can act as either a toxic brew (stereotype/low-power threat) or a beneficial elixir (stereotype/high-power lift) for performance.
Keywords: power, stereotype threat, stereotype lift, expectations, performance pressure
JEL Classification: A00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation