Rival or comrade? A systematic review and conceptual framework of when and why the powerful act prosocially or antisocially towards each other

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Abstract

We present a systematic review of the literature on power and its interpersonal consequences. Our review, comprising 339 studies published in 145 research articles, shows that this line of research has primarily examined how powerholders attend to and act towards powerless individuals, or others in general. We therefore know surprisingly little about how powerholders attend to and act towards other powerholders. To address this issue, we present a conceptual framework that outlines how an actor's power interacts with a target's power to influence prosocial and antisocial beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. We identify two routes in the literature detailing how powerholders respond to one another. First, building on rivalry literature, we present a competitive route suggesting that powerholders rival each other and engage in conflict. Second, building on social identity and social dominance literature, we present a harmonious route suggesting that powerful peers will show compassion and care for each other. Finally, we bring forth suggestions for how future research could test these two perspectives, by presenting moderators that determine when each of these two routes is activated. In doing so, we offer important implications for the power literature and open a new line of inquiry for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-183
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of applied social psychology
Volume52
Issue number3
Early online date29-Dec-2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2022

Keywords

  • SOCIAL-DOMINANCE ORIENTATION
  • IDENTITY THEORY
  • SELF
  • CATEGORIZATION
  • LEADERSHIP
  • BEHAVIOR
  • HIERARCHY
  • SALIENCE
  • PEOPLE
  • JUSTIFICATION

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