Dispositional Anxiety Blocks the Psychological Effects of Power

Jon K. Maner, Matthew T. Gailliot, Andrew J. Menzel, Jonathan W. Kunstman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

A growing body of research demonstrates that power promotes a fundamental orientation toward approach and agency. The current studies suggest that this tendency is moderated by dispositional anxiety. In two experiments, high levels of dispositional anxiety blocked the psychological effects of power. Although people low in anxiety responded to a power prime with greater willingness to take risks, those high in anxiety did not (Experiment 1). Similarly, whereas those low in social anxiety responded to power with increased sexual attraction toward a confederate, individuals high in social anxiety failed to show the same effect (Experiment 2). In both studies, the interaction between power and anxiety was statistically mediated by perceptions of reward. Although power enhanced people's perceptions of reward, this effect was eliminated by high levels of dispositional anxiety. This research provides insight into how, and in whom, power promotes approach and agentic behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1383-1395
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume38
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2012

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • behavioral inhibition
  • individual differences
  • power
  • social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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