You focus on the forest when you're in charge of the trees: Power priming and abstract information processing

Pamela K. Smith, Yaacov Trope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Elevated power increases the psychological distance one feels from others, and this distance, according to construal level theory (Y. Trope & N. Liberman, 2003), should lead to more abstract information processing. Thus, high power should be associated with more abstract thinking-focusing on primary aspects of stimuli and detecting patterns and structure to extract the gist, as well as categorizing stimuli at a higher level-relative to low power. In 6 experiments involving both conceptual and perceptual tasks, priming high power led to more abstract processing than did priming low power, even when this led to worse performance. Experiment 7 revealed that in line with past neuropsychological research on abstract thinking, priming high power also led to greater relative right-hemispheric activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-596
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume90
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2006

Keywords

  • Abstract thinking
  • Construal level theory
  • Hemispheric activation
  • Priming
  • Social power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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