Emotions and Control: The Importance of Valence

70 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2020

See all articles by T. Bradford Bitterly

T. Bradford Bitterly

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Polly Kang

Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania)

Maurice E. Schweitzer

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department

Date Written: November 4, 2020

Abstract

Although emotions powerfully shape our interpersonal interactions, a substantial literature has asserted that power, a critical feature of interpersonal interactions, is distinct from emotion. This prior work has defined power as asymmetric control over a resource and presumed that individuals are highly motivated to achieve greater power. We challenge this extant work in three ways. First, we demonstrate that emotion is inextricably linked with power; we link power with both state and anticipated emotion (guilt-proneness). Second, we identify valence, the attractiveness of the resource, as a critical, orthogonal dimension of power. Our results reveal that defining power as control over a resource is overly broad; this definition conflates positive power (high control, high valence) with negative power (high control, low valence) and obfuscates the psychological and behavioral differences that occur when the resource is desirable (allocating rewards) or undesirable (allocating punishment). Third, we find that emotions and valence, but not control, predict when individuals are motivated to seek power.

Keywords: Emotions, Valence, Power, Social Influence, Guilt-Proneness

Suggested Citation

Bitterly, T. Bradford and Kang, Polly and Schweitzer, Maurice E., Emotions and Control: The Importance of Valence (November 4, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3724902 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3724902

T. Bradford Bitterly (Contact Author)

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology ( email )

Hong Kong

Polly Kang

Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
19104 (Fax)

Maurice E. Schweitzer

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-4776 (Phone)
215-898-3664 (Fax)

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