Power makes complex decision-making easier

December 10th, 2008 - 1:02 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 10 (ANI): Power not only changes a persons responsibilities, but also the way he or she thinks. Now, a new study has shown that power makes complex decision-making easier.

The research team including psychologists Pamela Smith, Ap Dijksterhuis and Daniel Wigboldus of Radboud University Nijmegen revealed that having power may lead people to automatically think in a way that makes complex decision-making easier.

For the study, the researchers 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 solutionthat 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 possibilityattempts 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 problemthey do not spend a lot of time focusing on insignificant details of the problem.

They found that powerless volunteers performed better when they were distractedthat is, when they unconsciously thought about the problem.

Though the powerful participants performed equally well regardless of whether they were in the conscious thinking or unconscious thinking group.

These findings indicate that powerful peoples conscious deliberation is very much like the unconscious processing of the rest of usmore abstract and better when it comes to complex decisions.

The study appears in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. (ANI)

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