Power and perspective-taking: A critical examination

Adam D. Galinsky*, Derek Rucker, Joe C. Magee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The current analysis examines the relationship between power and perspective-taking. We review the literature and note four findings. First, multiple theories predict that power decreases perspective-taking. Second, consistent with these theories, numerous labs have found that power reduces perspective-taking and a concern for others. Third, we note one lab found contradictory results where power increased perspective-taking. Fourth, subsequent theoretical perspectives have proposed a moderated effect of power on perspective-taking—power increases perspective-taking when the powerful experience a sense of responsibility for others—that has been supported by many research labs. We also discuss why the Many Labs 3 (ML3) did not replicate an effect of power on perspective-taking using the sarcasm-interpretation paradigm (Keysar, 1994). Although it is possible that power does not produce a reliable effect in this particular paradigm, another potential explanation is that the ML3 set-up, where ten experiments and ten individual difference measures were completed in 30 minutes, may have limited participants’ depth of information processing, which is crucial in this paradigm. An examination of the ML3 means compared to the original means offers support for this possibility. We call for future research to explore when power does and does not increase a focus on others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-92
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Other-focus
  • Perspective-taking
  • Power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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