Power is a fundamental and much-studied concept in social psychology, but the majority of the research on power tests for power differences between pairs of strangers or in hierarchical organizations. The way power operates in other social contexts, such as close relationships, may be very different. This study tested for effects of relational power in romantic couples on behavioral (e.g., influence tactic use, hostility), affective (e.g., negativity, emotional suppression), cognitive (e.g., careful speech, empathic accuracy), and physiological (e.g., heart rate, skin conductance) consequences during a discussion regarding a major conflict. Very few effects of actor or partner power were found, and there were very few consistent patterns for moderators expected to ameliorate the effects of power (e.g., commitment, closeness, partner responsiveness) or exacerbate power differences (e.g., exchange orientation, hostility), nor were there consistent gender differences. Potential explanations for the lack of clear effects are discussed.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2016. Major: Psychology. Advisors: Jeffry Simpson, Alexander Rothman. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 113 pages.
Behavioral, affective, cognitive, and physiological consequences of relational power during conflict.
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