Power, risk, and the status quo: Does power promote riskier or more conservative decision making?

Jon K. Maner*, Matthew T. Gailliot, David A. Butz, B. Michelle Peruche

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


Two experiments suggest that the experience of power can interact with a person's level of power motivation to produce effects on risky decision making. In Study 1, assignment to a position of power increased risk taking among participants with low levels of power motivation but reduced risk taking among participants with high levels of power motivation. In Study 2, participants high in power motivation again made more conservative decisions, but only under circumstances in which the dominance hierarchy was unstable and there was potential for losing their power. When power was irrevocable and participants' choices had no bearing on their ability to retain power, both high and low power-motivated participants responded by making riskier decisions. Findings suggest that although power may generally lead to riskier decisions, power may lead to more conservative decisions among power-motivated individuals, especially when the status quo is perceived to be in jeopardy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-462
Number of pages12
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Decision making
  • Dominance
  • Motivation
  • Power
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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