Mourali and Yang explore the ways in which power can both help and hinder an individual’s ability to resist social influence.
The authors begin by defining power as “the ability to influence others’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.” They note that power can come from a variety of sources, such as position in a social hierarchy, expertise in a particular area, or physical strength.
Mourali and Yang then turn to the concept of social influence, which they define as “the process by which people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are affected by the real or imagined presence of others.” They note that social influence can take many forms, from overt persuasion to more subtle forms of influence, such as social norms or conformity.
The authors argue that power can play a dual role in resisting social influence. On the one hand, having power can make it easier to resist social influence, as individuals with power may be less concerned with fitting in or conforming to social norms. On the other hand, having power can also make it more difficult to resist social influence, as powerful individuals may be more likely to believe that they are immune to the influence of others.
To explore these competing effects of power on social influence, the authors conducted a series of studies. In one study, participants were asked to imagine themselves in a hypothetical situation where they were being pressured to conform to a group’s opinion. The authors found that participants who were told that they had high power in the situation (i.e., they had the ability to change the group’s opinion) were more likely to resist the group’s influence than participants who were told they had low power.
In a second study, the authors examined the effect of power on the ability to resist social influence in a real-world context. They surveyed employees of a large company and asked them to rate their level of power within the company, as well as their level of job satisfaction and commitment to the company. The authors found that employees who reported higher levels of power were more likely to report higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment, but were also more likely to report feeling pressure to conform to the company’s culture and values.
In a third study, the authors explored the impact of social norms on the ability of individuals to resist social influence. They found that individuals who reported having high power were more likely to resist the influence of a social norm that went against their personal beliefs, but were also more likely to conform to a norm that was consistent with their beliefs.
Overall, the authors suggest that the relationship between power and resistance to social influence is complex and context-dependent. While having power can provide individuals with the confidence and resources needed to resist social influence, it can also lead to overconfidence and a belief that one is immune to the influence of others. Additionally, social norms and expectations can play a significant role in shaping the ability of individuals to resist social influence.
The implications of these findings are significant, particularly for organizations and institutions where power dynamics play a significant role. The authors suggest that organizations should be mindful of the potential negative effects of power on resistance to social influence and should take steps to foster a culture that values independent thinking and critical inquiry. They also suggest that individuals should be aware of the potential pitfalls of power and should actively work to challenge their own assumptions and beliefs.
Mourali and Yang’s paper highlights the dual role of power in resisting social influence. While power can provide individuals with the resources and confidence needed to resist social influence, it can also lead to overconfidence and a belief that one is immune to the influence of others. By understanding these competing effects of power, individuals and organizations can better navigate social influence dynamics and promote a culture of independent thinking and critical inquiry.