Is power a psychological phenomena? Does it play a role in relationships?

Dear Writer,
Our research team has assembled a fantastic collection of information for your article on power. We begin with important definitions and a historical background discussing the origin of the idea of power as a psychological phenomena. We then provide examples on the tactics used to obtain power followed by an analysis of the role power plays in heterosexual, familial and interpersonal relationships. We would like to thank you for this opportunity and wish you all the best in your writing process.
Warm Regards,
Anton, Brandon, Kathy, Patrick, & Ryan

The Concept of Power

What is Power?

Guinote, A., & Vescio T.K. (Eds.). (2010). The Social Psychology of Power. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Power is defined as an individual having "…the potential to influence others in psychologically meaningful ways…through the giving or witholding of rewards and/or punishments" (Guinote & Vescio, 2010, p. 2). Even with that general definition being said, there are still different conceptualizations of power.

Overbeck, J.R. (2010). Concepts and Historical Perspectives on Power. In A. Guinote & T.K. Vescio (Eds.), The Social Psychology of Power (pp. 19-38). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Power can be conceptualized in the following ways:

Quantitative Capacity Perspectives: this is the view that power is a characteristic possessed by an individual, and that it can be measured quantitatively (i.e. by a number). Here, power is defined as having the ability to make things happen they way they want and to produce their desired outcome (Overbeck, 2010, p. 21).

Consent: this view states that the powerful only possess power because they were given it by "legitimate right" (Overbeck, 2010, p. 24). In addition to being granted power by a higher authority, such power can only be maintained if the subordinates consent to the person in power and if the subordinates do no rebel.

Identity-Based Theories: in this theory, it is stated that when individuals come together, they combine their interests and form a group which gives them social influence. By forming a group they gain much social influence and individuals from the group are then able to act on their surroundings and other people (Overbeck, 2010, p. 26).

Neal, J. W., & Neal, Z. P. (2011). Power as a structural phenomenon. American Journal of Community Psychology, 48(3-4), 157-167. doi:

This journal describes three instruments of social power. The first instrument deals with the manipulation of resources to reward/punish others people. This instrument of power captures the most direct and commonly discussed modes of domination and control, including for example the rich over the poor, or the privileged over the underprivileged. People using this instrument of power possess greater access to resources, which in turn allows them to dominate or control others with more limited access to resources. A second instrument of social power is having control over which issues will be raised for public discussion. Lastly, the third instrument of power is the ability to influence shared groups of people. Using this instrument of power allows powerful individuals and groups to spread propaganda that influences the perceptions of others. It is also noted that these instruments of social power reinforce one another.

Origins of Power

Boehm, C., & Flack J.C. (2010). The Emergence of Simple and Complex Power Structures through Social Niche Construction. In A. Guinote & T.K. Vescio (Eds.), The Social Psychology of Power (pp. 46-76). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Asymmetrical relationships in individuals gave rise to simple power structures. However, how did complex power structures evolve, such as the institutions we have today? From an evolutionary standpoint, did power evolve as the result of competition between members of the same species or the result of members of a species coming to an agreement about their respective positions within the hierarchy, thus creating stability. The theory of niche construction is introduced, explaining how species will modify ecological and social variables in order to adapt better to their respective environments and thus achieve stability in the environment. In essence, this source explains why a dominance hierarchy was selected as part of the evolution of social species like humans.

Moosa, M. M., & Ud-Dean, S. (2011). The role of dominance hierarchy in the evolution of social species. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 41(2), 203-208. doi:

This journal discusses the origins of a hierarchical structure in humans and why such a hierarchy was favourable from an evolutionary standpoint. Moosa and Ud-Dean explain that social species are subject to more intense competition for resources and at a greater risk of being exposed to disease. However, it is argued that the benefits of being a social species outweigh these challenges. The formation of a dominance hierarchy came about as the result of many members of the same species competing fiercely for resources. It is stated that individuals of a social species remember the result of previous encounters. Such encounters establish who is dominant and who is submissive and by doing so decreases future conflict. Depending the type of power structure (despotic vs. egalitarian), levels of stress vary across different ranking members of the society. It is also argued even though selection would favor the high ranking members of a society, lower ranking members of a society may still possess other advantages over high ranking members. Lastly, Moosa and Ud-Dean describe inequity aversion, an effect of a social hierarchy in the evolution of cognition of higher developed organisms. Inequity aversion suggests a comparison between the balance of one individual’s work and rewards, and the balance of another’s work and rewards. Thus, humans have been noted to respond in a negative manner when another person is awarded better for the same task. As a result of this phenomenon, individuals will continuously seek ways to gain power; this requires constant thinking about the consequences of one’s own actions, the actions of others, and then adjusting one’s own actions in accordance. Inequity causes individuals leads to a psychological response causing them to take on submissive attitude.

Effects of Power

Gruenfeld, D. (2006). The Psychology of Power [DVD]. United States: Kantola Productions/Stanford University.

In this video lecture, Dr. Gruenfeld explains and gives examples of how individuals are affected when given power. One of the key concepts she talks about is disinhibition, which is acting on one’s desires in a social context without any concern for possible social consequences. This implies an increased sensitivity to one’s own needs, as well as a lower sensitivity to the needs of others. Individuals with power will also have a stronger inclination to take action in pursuit of their goals which can lead to using other people as a means to achieve their goals (i.e. taking advantage of others). Dr. Gruenfeld also talks about something called the behavioural approach system, which is a psychophysiological system responsible for regulating our behaviour in response to rewards and opportunities in the environment. This system will be either activated or inhibited depending on the circumstances. In the former scenario, activation, the body is prepared for action and thinking is slowed down, while in the latter scenario (inhibition), the opposite occurs. Dr. Gruenfeld goes on to discuss three main hypotheses about the effects of power: the first being that power leads to an action orientation (i.e. people are more likely to take action when they have power). The second is that power reduces concern with social consequences of own actions (the aforementioned concept of disinhibition). The third hypothesis is that power leads to objectification (i.e. seeing others as a means to achieve a goal).

Kayden, X. (1990). Surviving power: The experience of power – exercising it and giving it up. New York, NY: The Free Press.

This is an excellent source as it describes power as a long journey. One power is usually discussed in terms of those who seek it or have it, this book deals with the whole story - what happens when one seeks power, has it, and then loses it. We see how power changes an individual when they become powerful and the way they treat and view others changes. However, this book's most notable feature is the discussion about individuals who lose power and must come to grips with their old disempowered self, yet there are also some opportunities for self-reflection.

Power and Tactics

Strategies of Power - Overt & Covert Tactics

Braiker, B. H. (2004). Who’s pulling your strings? – How to break the cycle of manipulation and regain control of your life. New York, New York: McGraw Hill Companies.

To really understand power dynamics in relationships, it is important to comprehend how it works, and how to break free from it through resistance tactics that aim to re-establish the power balance or at least sovereignty between individuals involved. This book solidly accomplishes that. It is a comprehensive and very clear read to how power works, in terms of the tactics involved: the levers of control which are the promise of gain or the fear of loss or avoidance of something unpleasant. Power can be applied in many different ways, for example manipulation, guilt trips, silent treatment, and these are all COVERT TACTICS which the book adequately describes. While the primary focus in the book is on manipulation, a strategy of power which is deemed to be more covert in the nature of power and in the extreme emotionally abusive if the manipulation is persistent and long-term; it also explores different power plays which are very useful and practical in understanding exactly how power works in terms of the strategies and tactics.

In this book resource, it describes manipulation as a specific tactic of power and is relevant as it relates to both sides: the manipulator or dominant person of power, and the submissive person in reception to that power. It describes the tactics of power in detail to enlighten how power works on a deeper level. Identifying the signs of manipulation as a tactic of power, and how to break free from it, the relevant information will be provided and it is a very useful resource which has impacted and improved the lives of many, including my own as I have read the book many times.

DeVito, A. J. (1996). Building interpersonal communication skills: Messages third edition. New York, New York: Harper Collins College Publishers.

All interpersonal encounters involve power. Who has the greater amount of power, how do we know, and what are the tactics in which the more power-dominant person displays, whether they are conscious of it or not? In this book resource, there is a chapter which deals with interpersonal communication and power. Specifically, compliance-gaining strategies, compliance-resisting strategies, power plays and management strategies, principles of power, and power in relationships. Concepts in this chapter will be helpful to include in research. Especially, when providing specific examples for the less powerful person to move towards more powerful speech, to avoid hesitations, avoid overpoliteness, self-critical statements, and so forth, explaining why, which ultimately extends beyond simply explaining the tactics used for power, but specific tactics to RE-GAIN one’s own power, tactics to become powerful, as long as it is healthy for the individual and for the respective parties involved; not to misuse power to hurt another.

Another example of the ways in which power is used to gain compliance, as noted in this resource, is offering a reward and then requesting a certain compliance, showing overt friendliness to get what one wants, promise, threat, moral appeals, bringing up past favours, and so on.

Falbo, T. (1980). Power strategies in intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1-11.

This online journal is relevant to the topic of power, relationships, and the tactics used with respect to elaborating on the strategies in experiment format. It gets into the balance of power in relationships and other details that would be useful for purposes of conducting research.

Fitzpatrick, M.A. (1979). You always hurt the one you love: Strategies and tactics in interpersonal conflict. 3-11. 27(Issue1).

This online journal conducts a study, looking at the tactics in relational conflict resolution and how they relate to power, and issues of dominance. It is relevant as it will provide added proof to tactics in the experimental study format, which aids to prove the point by offering substantial evidence. Especially in looking at the dynamic of conflict and how power plays a role in that, it is quite relevant for purposes of research, as power can be used especially in times of conflict most of all, in both overt and covert ways. In this research experiment, it denotes that males have a tendency to use more OVERT types of power, while females apply COVERT tactics of power. Explaining its bases, its outcomes, and its processes is all very relevant to this study of how power is used in terms of strategies and tactics. Especially, it describes the use of power BETWEEN the sexes as well, and the studies of research to match that investigation.

For instance of a study derived from this journal, females are found to be more likely to avoid conflict or have temper tantrums and males are found to be more likely to be competitive or exploitative. It also relays a chart with specific examples of strategies of power which is quite useful as a basis of research since it provides real-life instances and applications of power.

Howard, A. J. (1986). Sex, power, and influence tactics in intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 102-109.

This online journal resource is an experiment conducted, which examines the influence of sex, sex-role orientation, structural power, and interpersonal dependence on the use of influence tactics in 75 homosexual couples, 62 lesbian couples, and 98 heterosexual couples. It is relevant to the inquiry with respect to tactics of power, specifically in relation to relationships and key research is conducted and will be able to substantiate the points made with concrete research in this experiment format.

Tjosvold, D. & Wisse, B. (2009). Power and interdependence in organizations. New York, New York: Cambridge University Press.

The emphasis on gathering information from this book resource can be placed on extracting the relevant text on power and the tactics in which it is achieved. Although this resource mainly focuses on power in organizational setting, it also includes the use and methods of power interpersonally. Specifically, the use of power is important to note in this resource, as it describes matters of self-interest, cooperative power and competitive power. As it notes, leadership is usually deemed as the positive side, and power is part of the dark side. How to differentiate the two is described in this resource, and also why power use inappropriately can feel violating or disempowering for the other person, weakening them or making them feel uncomfortable. In order to manage power, it is important to understand how it works, and with the details offered in this resource it accomplishes that.

Wynette, C. G. (1990). Power and personality: Effects of machiavellianism, need for approval, and motivation on use of influence tactics. 1-12.

This online journal explains the simulation conducted in which influence tactics were shown between influencer, target, and the situation, and how influence is a form of power. It explains what Machiavellianism is and how test results varied according to the need for approval in order to influence the other. With emphasis on tactics, it explores the person’s personality and also goes into positive influence as a form of power, making this a relevant resource that also explores positive tactics to wield power as well, offering a diverse perspective.

Power and Imbalances in Heterosexual Romantic Relationships

Power In Romantic Relationships

Mazurek, B. T. (1999). Rethinking power in interpersonal relationships: The development of the power scale and a test of a model. (condoms, gender roles). (Order No. AAM9909402, Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, , 5622. Retrieved from (619441992; 1999-95008-102).

It's said that heterosexual relationships seem to have a sense of power imbalance. This imbalance has lead to poor decision making and control over the relationship. There are two aspects of power which are interactive power and autonomous power. Interactive power deals with two people influencing and/or causing an effect on each other. Autonomous power deals with the aspect of subjectivity. The aspect of subjectivity deals with the self regulating/governing self and being an overall independent individual. Power in interpersonal relationships, specifically heterosexual, can be viewed in a couple of ways. There's the societal perspective which deals with interactive power and the other aspect which is exerting control of the other person in which this deals with autonomous power. Gender roles and power go hand in hand when it comes to a heterosexual relationships. We notice this by how men are the ones initiating sexual behavior whereas women restrict the sexual behaviors. Before getting any further we question the notion what is power? Power is the ability to influence or control a group of people or individual. In terms of influence, people who have power can psychologically change another individual. We can view society having a lot of power over other people creating, influencing, and imposing; norms, beliefs, and values. It's said based on society that Men have higher status than women and more control over resources such as money, physical strength, or other material possessions. Men seem to be viewed as the all knowing in the society because of their higher status, better access, and more self confidence compared to women. From this, society uses men as a base to structure and nourish society. From this notion we can see a individualistic view where the individuals make up and structure society. Where women are fit into society is in the negative end. Women are portrayed as indirect, personal, and helpless to society. This notion of men and women relations in society is a stereotype in today's society but was true in the past in the case of westernized countries.

Different Forms of Power Expressed in Heterosexual Romantic Relationships

Doull, M. (2010). Girl power/boy power: Positive sexual health outcomes and the gendered dynamics of power in adolescent heterosexual relationships. (Order No. AAINR61246, Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, , 3626. Retrieved from (853490549; 2010-99240-215).

Women can and produce more influence than men. Does this mean that women have more power over men? Social science gives off an objective and biased view on how social scientists often give the man's point of view rather than the woman's. As mentioned before, power is the ability to control, win, exert, and dominate over other people and that this is seen through a set of patriarchal constructions based on the past. With that said, should we accept the notion that men hold the power in a heterosexual relationship? The feminist's perspective of power is focused on empowerment in which is defined as a process in which people are willingly able to share power in order to improve on their partner's feelings of competence and or power. From this notion of power, power is expressed from females in a male-female relationship but is just not acknowledged as much because we live a society where patriarchal society dominates. An example of where women express power is during the time of when men were the breadwinners of the house and women were the stay at home wives. at that time, Women still expressed power but in a different form. Through their empowerment, women are always there for their husband and encourages him all the time which helps the men feel more confident of himself and exert power. without women enhancing the feelings of their partner (empowerment), their partner (the man) is left feeling powerless. this is bad because this isn't going to help out the relationship. If power were all about men, then relationships wouldn't work out. The solution is to both empower one another in the relationship in which the notion of empowerment is reciprocal. To end off this argument, we can say that men and women express power in different ways and forms.

Dominance In Heterosexual Romantic Relationships

Zavala, E., & Spohn, R. E. (2010). Emotional abuse and controlling behaviors in heterosexual relationships: The role of employment and alcohol use for women and their partners. Sociological Spectrum, 30(5), 526-549. doi:

there's a cause/effect and determinism that's seen in male-female relationships. There's the factor on how much authority can affect the relationship in the long run. If a woman or man expresses the power of authority (the cause) towards the relationship, it's going to influence him or her in a way that it going to shape the relationship (effect). we notice imbalance in power when it comes to interpersonal heterosexual relationships in which it's either one individual in the relationship dominating the other. What it means to dominate another person in the relationship is to control and make decisions for them in which they have authority and power. It's noted that through surveys that both men and women want equal power for each other. They may have said that they want equal power in the relationship, but their actions speak otherwise. It's said that men are the ones initiating and revealing power towards women but men are usually the ones asking the girls to dates, making the first move, and paying for their date. Women although they express power in a different way(through empowerment and influence), women lack at exercising power through their interactions. When they learn to exercise power through their interactions in a subjective manner then it'll make for better decisions and for them pursue the first action.

Power and Family Relationships

Power and Family

Beckman-Brindley, S., Tavormina, J.B. (1978). Power relationships in families: A social-exchange perspective. Family Process, 17(4), 423-436. doi:

Before discussing any particular aspect of power interractions between family members it is important to outline the ways in which power manifests itself and what ways of research have been employed up until now. This resource outlines three types of research methodology: descriptive method, studies relating power patterns to adjustment and the social-exchange prespective. Each one of these approaches, while having flaws, has contributed imporant insights into the issue. The descriptive methodolgy heavily relied on the first-hand accounts of family members to measure the division of power within families. Predictably, this led to certain concerns about the accuracy of the acuired information. A problem, common to all of the mentioned research methodologies, is the lack of clear definition of what power is and how it differs from such constructs as "authority", "influence" and so on. Lastly, the accuracy of self-reported data is questionable at best, as it has been found in later resereach that a large number of participants respond according to their idea of a perfect relationship rather the actual relationship they are in. Studies relating power patterns to adjustment have had problems similar to those present in descriptive methodolgies. Namely, they lack, for the most part, a clear definition. They did, however, improve in terms of data acquisition, as they moved from self-report to observational method. Their primary focus has also shiftedfrom family decisions themselves to processes that governed those decisions. The social-exchange formulation has employed a different approach altogather, looking at a family as an interacticve unit and trying to gain insight into processes that structure them.

Power Measures and Their Relationship Within Families

Hadley, T.R., Jacob, T. (1973) Relationship among measures of family power. Journal of Pesonality and Social Psychology, 27(1), 6-12. doi:

In the light of the research methodology employed, the research of power dynamics within families started to employ both the outcomes of power as in descriptive approach and the power processes, as did methodologies that researched power patterns. This particular study uses four measurments of power: two processes and two outcomes. The procceses were defined as total talking time and succesful interruptions. The outcomes are coaltion games and unrevealed difference technique. The study has included parents and their adolescent male children and it has found that the two outcome measures are, in fact, closely related to one another, which suggests that the family members do recognize the authority of the family member, who is perceived to have the power.

Spousal Power Inequalities

Poeschl, G. (2007). What Family Organization Tells Us About Fairness and Power in Marital Relationships. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 1(1), 557-571. doi:

As the power dynamics within romantic relationships, spousal and otherwise, have been discussed in a previous section, this section will present research into another aspect of power within spousal interaction: domestic power. This particular source identifies three types of marital power: latent, invisible and manifest. Based on the operational definition of those terms, the connection is drawn between the possession of power within the household and the conformity to the socialy accepted norms and traditions. The power is said to be manifested though the decision-making privileges, including but not limited to such things as division of the workload of housework, disposal of income and resources. The refered article cites multiple studies that have found "a positive relationship between marital satisfaction and the perception of fairnes of housework divison"(sic). However, the feeling of fairness does not suggest the equality of such devision between spouses. On the contrary, the research suggests that not only the practises of unequal devision are maintained, but due to the culturaly reinforced ethics this inequality does not induce a feeling of injustice.

Power Abuse Within Families and the Consequences It Has On Child Development

Graham-Bermann, S.A., Brescoll, V. (2000). Gender, Power, and Violence: Assesing the Family Stereotypes of the Children of Batterers. Journal of Family Psychology, 14(4), 600-612. doi:

As it has been discussed, the measures of domestic power are usually based on the cultural views of male and female roles in the household. The most common one across cultures and undoubtedly a dominant one in North American homes is the notion that the male has more decision-making power, while female, regardless of her contribution to the household both in terms of the wokload performed and the resources has less. This inequality of power distribution, sadly, too often is taken to the extreme and results in what the author of the source calls a "patriarchy" within a family. Some of the key feature of such system include "an absolute legal and economic control over [men's] dependet family members". While this relationship between power inequality, cultural stereotypes and biases, and spousal abuse is fairly clear, the question of how these power mechanisms and manifistations within families affect children remains. The refered resaerch looks at relationship between spousal abuse and the perception that the children in such families have of their mothers and female members of society in general. The study findings show that those children believed that violence was not only an acceptable, but a neccessary part of family interactions.

Power Dynamics between Siblings/Step-Siblings

Grant, J.A. (1997). Vertical communication and perception of power among adolescent step and natural siblings. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanaties and Social Sciences, 57(8-A), 3696. url:

Sibling relationships are one of the most common relationships in life. According to the cited source, most of the people have at least on sibling. Furthermore, these relationships start very early in our lives and, in most cases, last a lifetime. It is not surprising that the effect that they have on the development of personality is considerable,to say the least. In addition, the issue became more complicated as the social norms have expanded to include such things as divorce and remarriage as acceptable. This has not only added to the complexity in identifying the factors, that influence the dynamics, both of power possesion and otherwise, within family units, but also have created a new type of relationship to be examined: step-siblings and step-parents. These relationships are not formed based on biological or social heritage and, therefore, require further research into what makes these relationships possible and how with these changes does destribution of power change.

Power and Interpersonal Relationships

School Children

Anderson, H. E. (1939). Domination and social integration in the behaviour of kindergarten children in an experimental play situation. Journal of Experimental Education, 8, 123-131.

This article from 1939 brings significant value, specifically when investigating the history of power as a psychological phenomenon. The attention on children is excellent since it is crucial to understand information on how power plays a role in a variety of age-groups. The study focuses on domination in social relations of kindergarten students. The hypothesis is that the behaviour of one child stimulates the same behaviour in their companion. If one child uses dominative techniques, so will the other. But one child’s use of cooperative behaviour or ‘integrative behaviour’ as it is called in this journal, will subsequently result in cooperation of the child’s counterpart. Dominative techniques were operationalized as “the use of force, commands, threats, shame, blame, attacks against personal status (Anderson 1939)”. Integrative behaviour was operationalized as “an attempt to reduce instead of augment or incite conflict or differences (Anderson 1939).” The researchers studied the behaviour of 49 kindergarten children, mostly separated in groups of two, playing in a sandbox. The study revealed an interesting dynamic when analyzing the gender of the children. Girls, when paired with other girls, displayed more dominative behaviour than boys did in parallel circumstances. However, when the sexes were cross-paired, the dominative behaviour increased in boys and decreased in girls. But overall, according to the statistics they gathered during the experiment, their hypothesis that a child’s dominative or integrative behaviour yields the same behaviour in their partners was proven to be correct.

Pellegrini, A. D. (2001). The roles of dominance and bullying in the development of early heterosexual relationships. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 2(2-3), 63-73. doi:

This is a very interesting article that suggests bullying in school aged heterosexual males is used to obtain social dominance. It explains that in the transition from primary to middle school, bullying increases. This is due to a desire to get to the top of the power hierarchy. Bullying decreases once dominance is achieved. As suggested in previous texts, dominance techniques are rarely seen after an individual has established themselves as powerful. The journal seems to be taking a structuralist approach to explaining power as a psychological phenomenon. They claim that dominance is a tactic to gain greater access to resources such as attractive members of the opposite sex. They also hypothesis that it is this bullying that leads boys to sexual harassment of females. The same techniques which boys use to gain social dominance and maximize their resources are used when they gain interest in the opposite sex. The journal states that although the playful physical interactions that boys have with girls at adolescence may be part of courtship, some of this bullying turns into sexual harassment of their peers in later stages of life.

Perceptions of Power

Dunbar, N. E., & Burgoon, J. K. (2005). Perceptions of power and interactional dominance in interpersonal relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22(2), 207-233. doi:

This is based around a study to examine the role of dominance and power in marital interpersonal relationships. The researches make an interesting distinction between power and dominance in their theoretical framework. Power is seen as an ability that can be exercised or not. Dominance on the other hand has to do with control attempts by one individual which are heeded by the other. Their hypothesis was that “individuals display more dominance when they perceive they are relatively equal to their partners than when they perceive they have more or less power than their partner (Dunbar 2005)”. This is because powerful people have nothing to gain from confrontation and avoidance is often an effective way to maintain their position of power. To test this hypothesis, researchers conducted an experiment in which spouses were given $1000 to hypothetically spend. A series of verbal coding, defined by influence strategies like compromise or threats, as well as non-verbal coding, such as kinesics and vocal characteristics, was used to gain accuracy in understanding the phenomena. However the experiment’s findings did not support the original hypothesis. The relationship between power and dominance proved to be linear. Both non-verbal and verbal indicators of dominance corresponded with the partner’s power. Higher control attempts resulted in higher amounts of power for the subject.

Liem, J. H., O'Toole, J. G., & James, J. B. (1996). Themes of power and betrayal in sexual abuse survivors' characterizations of interpersonal relationships. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9(4), 745-761.

This journal has a very relevant hypothesis that, victims of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) would reflect greater desire to achieve power in interpersonal relationships as well as be more prone to feelings of powerlessness. A study was done with 43 women with CSA histories and 43 without such histories. The participants were asked to write stories that corresponded with five cards. For example, one card showed an older woman and young boy facing a police officer. The stories were coded by a professional rater who looked for themes of things such as, ‘need for power’ and ‘fear of power’. The sample studies provided in the journal displayed drastically different perceptions of the situation on the card. For instance, one woman without CSA history described a situation where the police officer was informing a mother and child about their father’s death, while another woman with CSA history described a story where the boy had skipped school and the father had been beating his son and wife. The result of the study proved that past traumatic experiences influences the way individuals perceive themselves and interpersonal relationships. This journal is crucial in understanding what effect past experiences have on people's perception of power.

Interpersonal Sensitivity

Mast, M. S., Jonas, K., & Hall, J. A. (2009). Give a person power and he or she will show interpersonal sensitivity: The phenomenon and its why and when. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(5), 835.

The majority of literature written about power as a psychological phenomenon portrays it in a somewhat negative light. It is important to also discuss the positive aspects of power and this journal does exactly that. This study suggests that high-powered individuals may have higher interpersonal sensitivity. In other words, the results of being empowered can be greater empathy and concern for other people. They believe that powerful people are prone to either a relationship-orientation that is self-focused or other focused. When high-power individuals adopt a more compassionate leadership style, as opposed to a selfish one, they will show more interpersonal sensitivity. The researchers performed a study to test their hypothesis. Participants were divided into dyads and asked to rank a series of items for a survival list. Each dyad was given either the position of leader or assistant. To test their interpersonal sensitivity, after the task the participants were shown videos of people interacting with their superiors. The combination of genders and situations varied but one example is, “a male superior with a female subordinate at a Swiss Army recruiting center (Matt 2009)”. The participants were asked that whenever they had a thought or feeling to stop the video and describe it on a sheet of paper. It was proven that those who were put in roles of power displayed more empathy than those who were in low-power positions.

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