Power has been acknowledged as a significant motivating factor in relationships among individuals. In social psychology, it has been described as the relative ability of an individual to modify other peoples’ situations by issuing or withholding rewards or meting out punishments (Brinol et al., 2007). There exist limited methods of power manipulations in social psychological literature. The two most common methods often applied in experiments include role-playing power induction manipulation and the writing-task recall model (Brinol et al., 2007). The former encompasses individuals being assigned roles, with each possessing characteristics of either high or low power. The latter involves participants being instructed to recall moments in their lives where they either possessed high or low power. Besides power manipulation by inducing role-playing and the writing-task recall paradigm, there can be another manipulation of low versus high power by giving a privilege.
Power manipulation by giving a privilege is solely based on the literal definition of power-being in control over resources. In a high-power state, the participants are assigned as leaders, and each is given a specific amount of resources, such as money. The participants are to allocate the resources to themselves and other individuals in the group, and their choice is judged on how much every member acquires at the experiment’s conclusion. Participants have no control over the resources in the low-power state but are instead asked how they would allocate them if they were leaders. Their choice or decision on the matter would, however, not be considered at the end of the test.
Therefore, in both low and high-power states, the participants are afforded the same task even though the participants’ decisions in the high-power state are considered at the experiment’s conclusion. The allocation of resources, thus, proves successful in generating a high sense of power for the people in control. In summary, high versus low power can also be successfully manipulated by assigning a privilege. This method involves giving participants the power to have control over resources. This is the sole definition of power. Thus, high-power individuals are afforded actual resources to allocate while the low-power persons are asked to imagine performing the same task while possessing the same resources. This power manipulation technique can be employed in scenarios where role-playing and writing-task recall are likely to be unsuccessful.
Brinol, P., Petty, R. E., Valle, C., Rucker, D. D., & Becerra, A. (2007). The effects of message recipients’ power before and after persuasion: A self-validation analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93(6), 1040–1053. Web.