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Consistency in the self-concept across social contexts has been linked to various positive outcomes, including felt authenticity and well-being. Based on theories of social power (e.g., Keltner, Gruenfeld, & Anderson, 2003), we predicted that high-power individuals, disposed to greater control of their environments and freedom of self-expression, would exhibit greater self-concept consistency relative to their low-power counterparts. Across three studies, measured and manipulated high-power participants showed elevated self-concept consistency in terms of greater coherence and consistency in their spontaneous self-descriptions (Studies 1 and 2), and less variability in trait ratings of themselves across different contexts (Study 3), relative to low-power participants. Moreover, high-power participants' tendency to be more consistent in their self-concept explained their higher reports of authenticity relative to low-power participants (Study 3). Discussion focuses on the implications of these findings for health and well-being, and for power differences in other cultural contexts.
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In the present chapter, we advance a reciprocal influence model of social power. Our model is rooted in evolutionist analyses of primate hierarchies, and notions that the capacity for subordinates to form alliances imposes important demands upon those in power, and that power heuristically reduces the likelihood of conflicts within groups. Guided by these assumptions, we posit a set of propositions regarding the reciprocal nature of power, and review recent supporting data. With respect to the acquisition of social power, we show that power is afforded to those individuals and strategic behaviors related to advancing the interests of the group. With respect to constraints upon power, we detail how group‐based representations (a fellow group member's reputation), communication (gossip), and self‐assessments (an individual's modest sense of power) constrain the actions of those in power according to how they advance group interests. Finally, with respect to the notion that power acts as a social interaction heuristic, we examine how social power is readily and accurately perceived by group members and gives priority to the emotions, goals, and actions of high‐power individuals in shaping interdependent action. We conclude with a discussion of recent studies of the subjective sense of power and class‐based ideologies.
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