Power gained, power lost

Niro Sivanathan, Madan M. Pillutla, J. Keith Murnighan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Changes in power almost invariably lead to changes in behavior. This research investigates the effects of power increases and power decreases for individuals who are in strong or weak positions. We hypothesized that individuals will have strong reactions to gains in power (their demands will increase markedly) but they will act almost as though they do not recognize losses in power (their demands will not drop much) when they lose power. Four experiments track individuals' actions when they move from ultimatum to dictatorship games, from dictatorship to ultimatum games, or when they have the same power position repeatedly. The data consistently show that people over-react to an increase in power, but that they react appropriately to a loss in power. The discussion explores the behavioral disconnect between increases and decreases in power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-146
Number of pages12
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Bargaining
  • Control
  • Dependence
  • Dictatorship
  • Information
  • Power
  • Resources
  • Ultimatums

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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