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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2001 Feb;80(2):173-87.

Relationship orientation as a moderator of the effects of social power.

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Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, USA.


This research examined the hypothesis that the concept of power is mentally associated with different goals for individuals with a communal versus an exchange relationship orientation (M. S. Clark & J. Mills, 1979). It was predicted that communals associate power with social-responsibility goals, whereas exchangers link power with self-interest goals. Thus, when power is activated, distinct goals should be ignited for communals and exchangers. Power was primed unobtrusively using semantic cues in Study 1 and using naturally occurring, environmental cues in Studies 2 and 3. Across studies, power-primed communals responded in socially responsible ways, whereas power-primed exchangers acted more in line with their self-interests. These power-goal effects occurred nonconsciously. Overall, the data support taking a Person x Situation approach--one that allows for moderators such as relationship orientation--to understand power's positive and negative effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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