Journal article

The powerful want to, the powerless have to: Perceived constraint moderates causal attributions

Jennifer R Overbeck, Larissa Z Tiedens, Sebastien Brion

EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY | JOHN WILEY & SONS LTD | Published : 2006

Abstract

It is popularly believed that powerful people enjoy a nearly-absolute lack of constraints, and that powerless people suffer under overwhelming constraints; in fact, such differences largely define the social categories of 'powerful person' and 'powerless person.' This association of power-related social categories and constraint constitutes a stereotype that may lead perceivers to overlook other, more diagnostic information when explaining others' behavior. As a result, the actions of powerholders may tend to be seen as dispositionally motivated and those of the powerless as situationally motivated. This should occur because of both real differences in constraint, and bias in the failure to ..

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University of Melbourne Researchers