Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Thinking Like A President: How Power Affects Complex Decision Making

Date:
December 10, 2008
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Presidential scholars have written volumes trying to understand the presidential mind. Do those seeking office have a unique approach to decision making? Studies have suggested that power changes not only a person's responsibilities, but also the way they think. Now, a new study in Psychological Science indicates that having power may lead people to automatically think in a way that makes complex decision-making easier.

Presidential scholars have written volumes trying to understand the presidential mind. How can anyone juggle so many complicated decisions? Do those seeking office have a unique approach to decision making? Studies have suggested that power changes not only a person’s responsibilities, but also the way they think.

Related Articles


Now, a new study in the December issue of Psychological Science indicates that having power may lead people to automatically think in a way that makes complex decision-making easier.

Psychologists Pamela Smith, Ap Dijksterhuis and Daniλl Wigboldus of Radboud University Nijmegen stimulated feelings of powerlessness or power in a group of volunteers by having some volunteers recall a situation when other people had power over them and other volunteers recall a situation when they had power over other people. Then they were given a complicated problem to solve (they had to pick among four cars, each varying on 12 different attributes). The experiment was designed so that there was a “correct” solution—that is, one of the cars had the most positive and least negative attributes, although the optimal choice was not obvious. Both the “powerful” and the “powerless” volunteers chose among the cars, but some spent time consciously thinking about the problem, while others were distracted with a word puzzle.

Previous research has shown that most people can solve complex problems better if they engage in unconscious thinking, rather than try to deliberately examine and weigh each factor. The conscious mind is not able to consider every possibility—attempts to do so bog the mind down in too much detail. Unconscious thinkers are better at solving complicated problems because they are able to think abstractly and very quickly get to the gist of the problem—they do not spend a lot of time focusing on insignificant details of the problem.

The results showed that the “powerless” volunteers performed better when they were distracted—that is, when they unconsciously thought about the problem. More interestingly, the “powerful” participants performed equally well regardless of whether they were in the conscious thinking or unconscious thinking group.

These findings indicate that powerful people’s conscious deliberation is very much like the unconscious processing of the rest of us—more abstract and better when it comes to complex decisions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Thinking Like A President: How Power Affects Complex Decision Making." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081209154943.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2008, December 10). Thinking Like A President: How Power Affects Complex Decision Making. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081209154943.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Thinking Like A President: How Power Affects Complex Decision Making." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081209154943.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) — Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins