The Music of Power: Perceptual and Behavioral Consequences of Powerful Music

Dennis Y. Hsu*, Li Huang, Loran F. Nordgren, Derek D. Rucker, Adam D. Galinsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Music has long been suggested to be a way to make people feel powerful. The current research investigated whether music can evoke a sense of power and produce power-related cognition and behavior. Initial pretests identified musical selections that generated subjective feelings of power. Experiment 1 found that music pretested to be powerful implicitly activated the construct of power in listeners. Experiments 2–4 demonstrated that power-inducing music produced three known important downstream consequences of power: abstract thinking, illusory control, and moving first. Experiments 5a and 5b held all features of music constant except for the level of bass and found that music with more bass increased participants’ sense of power. This research expands our understanding of music’s influence on cognition and behavior and uncovers a novel antecedent of the sense of power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2015


  • abstract thinking
  • illusory control
  • moving first
  • music
  • power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'The Music of Power: Perceptual and Behavioral Consequences of Powerful Music'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this