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How Power Affects Behavior and Decision-Making

By Jennifer Ray, Michaela Simpson, Heidi Grant, David Rock, and Kamila Sip

Power has been shown to have measurable cognitive effects that lead to changes in behavior and decision-making. This paper details three of these effects that make the powerful more 1) goal-focused than people-focused, 2) oriented toward optimism than risk aversion, and 3) focused on the bigger picture rather than the planning and details. Though there are benefits associated with each of these effects, there are also potential challenges of which each powerful person should be aware. This paper also describes strategies that organizations and individuals can use to counter the downsides of power.

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