Perceived Power Affects Vocal Characteristics, Life Outcomes

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher participated in vocal training to project greater authority in her political role, with highly effective results.

Even without specific vocal training, research volunteers adopted powerful vocal elements when believed they had power and informational advantages in lab experiments by San Diego State University’s Sei Jin Ko and Melody S. Sadler with Adam D. Galinsky of Columbia.

Sei Jin Ko

Sei Jin Ko

Ko’s team asked more than 160 volunteers to read a text designed to evaluate speaking skills as a baseline for later comparison.
Then, they randomly assigned volunteers to a “high” ranking role with the prime “you have a strong alternative offer, valuable inside information, or high status in the workplace, or by asking participants to recall an experience in which they had power.

The remaining participants were told they had “a weak offer, no inside information, or low workplace status,” or were asked to recall an experience in which they lacked power.

Melody Sadler

Melody Sadler

To compare the impact of these power primes with the baseline reading performance, participants in both groups read a text about negotiating.
People in the high power group spoke in a higher pitch, with greater volume, and less tone variability than the low-power group.
In fact, team Ko found that people in the high power prime group had a similar vocal profile to Thatcher following her vocal training.

Mariëlle Stel

Mariëlle Stel

This contrasts previous research that demonstrated lower vocal pitch is associated with greater perceived power in work by Tilburg University’s Mariëlle Stel and Farah M. Djalal with Eric van Dijk and Wilco W. van Dijk of Leiden University, collaborating with University of California, San Diego’s Pamela K. Smith.

Eric van Dijk

Eric van Dijk

In additional investigations by Ko’s team, additional participants listened to recordings of people who read in the previous condition, and accurately determined which volunteers conveyed higher status and were more likely to engage in high-power behaviors, based only on vocal elements.

Joris Lammers

Joris Lammers

Power primes” or asking people to recall a time they had power and felt powerful, can significantly influence important life opportunities determined by hiring and university admission decisions, reported Tilburg University’s Joris Lammers with David Dubois of INSEAD and Northwestern’s Derek D. Rucker collaborating with Adam D. Galinsky of Columbia.

Thomas Mussweiler

Thomas Mussweiler

Self-generated primes are especially influential because they lead to “assimilation of the power suggestion, whereas primes provided by other people, as in Ko’s investigation, yield “contrast,” suggested Universität Würzburg’s Thomas Mussweiler and Roland Neumann.

Egon Brunswik

Egon Brunswik

The strong impact of beliefs about power has been explained by Egon Brunswik of Berkeley’s “lens model” of perception, self-fulfilling prophecy theory by University of California’s Robert Rosenthal, and self-efficacy theory described Stanford’s Albert Bandura.

Francesca Gino

Francesca Gino

To personalize these theories and demonstrate the impact of power beliefs on life outcomes, Francesca Gino discussed her use of power primes to increase her confidence during presentations, leading to her current role at Harvard, where she pursues research on the impact of power primes and beliefs on personal performance and outcomes.

These findings suggest that beliefs about personal power shape behaviors like vocal profile, which can lead to differing outcomes in occupational and life opportunities.

Egon Brunswik's Lens Model

Egon Brunswik’s Lens Model

  • How do you modify your voice to convey power and authority?
  • How do you develop confidence in your power?

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Reduce “Time Famine” By Doing for Others

Feeling “starved for time,” with “too much to do and too little time to do it”? University of Michigan’s Leslie Perlow identified the subjective experience “time famine” among software engineers, whose productivity was reduced based on frequent interruptions by others, a pervasive “crisis mentality,” rewards linked to “individual heroics.”

Cassie Moligner

Cassie Moligner

One counterintuitive remedy for “time famine” is giving time by helping other people.
This use of time increased feelings of “time affluence” in a study by Wharton’s Cassie MolignerZoë Chance of Yaleand Harvard’s Michael I. Norton.

Ernst Pöppel

Ernst Pöppel

Volunteers judged that they “did a lot with their time,” and had more available time when they helped others.
Mogilner and colleagues analyzed people’s elementary time experiences,” described by Ernst Pöppel of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.

Francis Wade

Francis Wade

As Francis Wade of 2Time Labs pointed out, people cannot increase actual chronological time, but individual time experiences can vary based on physiological state, emotion, and context.

Moligner’s team compared people’s perceptions of time abundance when they:

  • Did something for someone else by writing an encouraging note to a gravely ill child or helping an at-risk student by editing his or her research essay for 15 minutes,
  • Spent 10 minutes doing something “for yourself that you weren’t already planning to do today,”
  • Spent 30 minutes doing something for someone else “that you weren’t already planning to do today,”
  • “Wasted” time on a low-meaning task by counting the letter “e” in multiple pages of Latin text,
  • Gained unexpected “free” time when they learned that “all essays had been edited,” so they could leave early.

Spending time on others seemed to “expand the future” and increase the perceived amount of available time, compared with spending time on oneself or “finding” free time.
In fact, people who unexpectedly gained fifteen minutes actually spent less time on a later required task than those who invested time helping another person.
This suggests that spending time pro-socially may increase one’s future work efforts, whereas finding free time may diminish work motivation.

Michael DeDonno

Michael DeDonno

Perceived time pressure undermined learning performance more than actual time constraints on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), found Florida Atlantic University’s Michael DeDonno and Heath Demaree of Case Western.

The team told more than 80 volunteers that time available for the task was “insufficient,” whereas they advised another group of more than 80 people that they had “sufficient” time to complete the task.
The time available to both groups was identical and adequate to complete the IGT, which asks participants to select from four decks of cards to win as much “money” as possible.

Heath Demaree

Heath Demaree

Two of the decks yield higher payoffs or “positive utility” whereas the remaining two decks render less favorable winnings, offering “negative utility.”
To win, participant learn which decks offer the greatest payoff in the shortest time for 100 trials.

Each group of more than 80 volunteers was separated into two sub-groups given different amounts of time between card selections to consider the task, while the total time available remained the same.

People who thought they had insufficient time for the task achieved lower payoff than volunteers who believed they had enough time.
Since both groups had the same amount of time, the performance difference was attributed to their beliefs about time constraints, suggesting the importance of focusing on the task rather than on potential time limits.

Steven J. Karau

Steven J. Karau

Actual time constraints affected both group interactions and task performance in a planning task evaluated by Southern Illinois University’s Steven J Karau and Janice R Kelly of Purdue.

They asked 36 groups of three volunteers to complete a planning task while group interactions were videotaped and coded using the Time-by-Event-by-Member Pattern Observation (TEMPO) system, developed by Texas Tech’s Gail Clark Futoran, Janice Kelly of Purdue, and University of Illinois’s Joseph McGrath.

Gail Clark Futoran

Gail Clark Futoran

Twelve of the groups had inadequate time, whereas another twelve groups had optimal time for task completion, and the final twelve groups has more than enough time.

Group performance was evaluated based on:

  • Length,
  • Originality,
  • Creativity,
  • Adequacy,
  • Issue Involvement,
  • Presentation quality,
  • Optimism,
  • Action orientation.

The groups that had greater time constraints actually focused less on the task than groups with more time, supporting Karau and Kelly’s recommendation to maintain task focus when performance time is limited to optimize performance.

Janice Kelly

Janice Kelly

Time constraints differentially affected each performance evaluation, and one way to mitigate the impact of time constraints is to shift focus from perceived time scarcity and stress to attend to the task.

-*How do you maintain task focus when perceiving time pressure?

-*To what extent does investing time in other people give you the sense of greater “time abundance”?

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“Precise” Offers Provide Negotiation Advantage

Malia F Mason

Malia F Mason

Opening negotiation offers typically “anchor” the discussion and shape settlement values. Many people make opening offers in “round” numbers like $10 instead of “precise” numbers like $9.
However, “round number offers” were less powerful than “precise” offers in shaping negotiations during a recent lab study by Columbia’s Malia Mason, Alice J. Lee, Elizabeth A. Wiley, and Daniel Ames.
This finding suggests that negotiators can improve their can improve their outcomes by specifying offers more precisely, such as $103.

Y Charles Zhang

Y Charles Zhang

Precise first offers more potently anchored the negotiation range than round number proposals, reported Mason’s group.
This strong anchor may occur because participants who proposed precise offers were perceived as more confident, and credible, and “well-informed” regarding actual value.

Norbert Schwartz

Norbert Schwartz

This finding complements University of Michigan’s Y. Charles Zhang and Norbert Schwarz of University of Southern California’s observations that consumers have more confidence in precise estimates, except when they doubt the communicator.
In addition, consumers like precise estimates more when they engaged “cooperative conversational conduct norms” during negotiations.

H Paul Grice

H Paul Grice

These norms, defined by Berkeley’s H. Paul Grice, are summarized from Grice’s maxims, which advocate communicating:

  • Briefly,
  • Clearly,
  • Relevantly,
  • Truthfully,
  • Offering only as much and content not more than required.

Despite the apparent advantages of more precise offers, these could signal “inflexibility” to some co-negotiators.
As a result, people who received precise offers generally made more conciliatory counter-offers, leading to smaller adjustments and more favorable final settlements for the person who proposed the precise offer.
Precise offers also led to better final deals even when the negotiator opened with a less ambitious, but precise offer.

Martin Schweinsberg

Martin Schweinsberg

These findings suggests that precise offers can be a useful strategic option because extreme first offers, though offering an ambitious anchor, may offend a co-negotiator by signaling aggression or greed, according to INSEAD’s Martin Schweinsberg collaborating with Gillian Ku and Madan M. Pillutla of London Business School’s and Cynthia S. Wang of Oklahoma State University.
This perception may lead a negotiation partner to walk away from the discussion, resulting in an impasse or stalled progress toward a final settlement.

Gillian Ku

Gillian Ku

In addition, negotiators who see themselves in a lower-power position are more likely to walk away, even though both low-power and high-power negotiators were equally offended by extreme offers.
Though an extreme offer may result in high rewards, it can be a more risky strategy than offering a more moderate precise offer.

Manoj Thomas

Manoj Thomas

Another advantage of more precise offers is that buyers may not recognize their actual magnitude:  Buyers underestimated the size of precise prices, particularly under uncertain conditions in studies by Cornell’s Manoj Thomas and Vrinda Kadiyali with Daniel H. Simon of Indiana University.

In fact, U.S. homeowner participants in their lab said they would pay a higher price quoted in precise numbers than when stated in round numbers, validated in the team’s analysis of actual residential real estate transactions in two U.S. markets.

Vrinda Kadiyali

Vrinda Kadiyali

In both cases, buyers paid higher sale prices when list prices were precise.
Thomas and team were able to manipulate the “precision effect” in later negotiations when participants had earlier experience with round number offers and precise offers.

Precise offers seem to offer some of the benefits of favorably anchoring negotiation discussions while reducing some of the risks of extreme offers.

-*How effective have you found “precise” opening offers in achieving your negotiation goals?

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Women’s Self-Advocacy: Self-Promotion and Violating the “Female Modesty” Norm

Corinne Moss-Racusin

Corinne Moss-Racusin

Many women experience anxiety and stress when required to showcase their accomplishments and skills, yet many in the U.S. have repeatedly heard that self-promotion, personal marketing, and “selling yourself” are required to be recognized and rewarded at work.

Gender norms about “modesty,” or holding a moderate opinion of one’s accomplishments and skills, lacking pretentiousness, minimizing responsibility for success, and accepting responsibility for failure, all contribute to women’s discomfort in showcasing their accomplishments.

Laurie Rudman

Laurie Rudman

By contrast, many American men freely share their accomplishments, which leads others to see them as “competent,” “capable,” and “confident.”
In fact, Skidmore’s Corinne Moss-Racusin, Julie Phelan of Langer Research Associates and Rutgers’ Laurie Rudman reported a “backlash” against men who adopt the “modesty” norm and do not advertise their successes.

Women from cultures that value cooperation, collaboration, and collective accomplishment over individual recognition have even greater challenges adopting local career advancement strategies.

Marie‐Hélène Budworth

Marie‐Hélène Budworth

Yet, conforming to these norms limits women’s career advancement, found York University‘s MarieHélène Budworth and Sara L. Mann of University of Guelph.

Deborah A. Small

Deborah A. Small

Women who adhere to implicit “female modesty” expectations experience this career handicap because they are less likely to ask for promotions and raises.
This reluctance to ask contributed to women’s long-term pay disparity in research by University of Pennsylvania’s Deborah A. Small, Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University, University of Maryland’s Michele Gelfand and Hilary Gettman.

Peter Glick

Peter Glick

However, if women violate “modesty norms”, they can experience discrimination in hiring, promotion, and wages, found Rutgers’ Rudman and Peter Glick of Lawrence University along with other adverse interpersonal consequences, reported by Yale’s Victoria Brescoll.

Mark Zanna

Mark Zanna

In addition, people who violate norms typically experience situational arousal including discomfort, anxiety, fear, nervousness, perspiration, increased heart rate, noted University of Waterloo’s Mark Zanna and Joel Cooper of Princeton.

However, if women attribute this physical activation to something other than the norm violation, they were more likely to engage in self-promotion, express interest in self-promotion, and more effectively and extensively describe their accomplishments.
One example is described in a recent blog post when “anxiety” was reattributed as “excitement”, leading to improved performance.

Jessi L Smith

Jessi L Smith

Despite women’s career “double bind,” targeted interventions can help women to communicate more effectively about their successes, noted Montana State University’s Jessi L. Smith and Meghan Huntoon.

More than 75 women wrote sample essays for a merit-based “scholarship” valued up to $5,000.
One group was composed essays about their own accomplishments whereas another group wrote about another person’s accomplishments.

Andrew Elliott

Andrew Elliott

In addition, they completed Achievement Goal Questionnaire – Revised by University of Rochester Andrew Elliot and Kou Murayama of Tokyo Institute of Technology to evaluate “performance approach” and “performance avoidance.”

The laboratory contained a black box described as a “subliminal noise generator.”
Half the volunteers were told the box produced “inaudible but potentially uncomfortable ultra-high frequency noise,” and they were later asked to evaluate “the effects of extraneous distractions on task performance.”
The remaining participants received no information about the black box.

Victoria Brescoll

Victoria Brescoll

Women who could attribute their experience to the “noise generator” produced higher-quality, more convincing descriptions of their achievements, measured by being “awarded” significantly higher scholarships prizes – up to $1,000 more.
In addition, these women said they were more interested in the task, which is typically associated with greater intrinsic motivation to showcase personal accomplishments

In contrast, women who violated the “modesty” norm without reference to the “noise generator” said they were less interested in describing their achievements, negatively evaluated their performance, produced lower-quality essays, and were more likely to fear failurethan when they advocated for another woman.

Women perceived as displaying their accomplishments in essays were negatively evaluated by judges, who “awarded” an average of $1,500 less to people wrote about their own accomplishments rather than about someone else’s.

Leon Festinger

Leon Festinger

One “workaround” for women’s double bind is to reciprocally advocate for female colleagues.
This strategy highlights women’s accomplishments as organizational policies evolve to support and encourage women’s self-promotion.
An example is Google’s self-nomination process for advancement and promotion, coupled with reminder emails to submit self-nominations.

When women reconstrue self-promotion, “selling” and “marketing” professional accomplishments as “part of the job,” they tend to experience less “cognitive dissonance” and perform more effectively when showcasing their capabilities.

  • How do you manage the norm against women “bragging” and showcasing their accomplishments?

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Ethnic Diversity Reduces “Groupthink,” Economic “Bubbles”

Despite some progress in raising awareness about implicit bias and stereotypes, most people are less likely to trust recommendations and evaluations from people of different ethnic groups.

Sheen Levine

Sheen Levine

However, this bias may reduce the “herd mentality” that characterized recent price “bubbles” in U.S. housing and global financial markets, reported Columbia’s Sheen S. Levine, Evan P. Apfelbaum of MIT, Goethe University’s Mark Bernard, Texas A&M’s Valerie L. Bartelt, Edward J. Zajac of Northwestern, and University of Warwick’s David Stark.
They concluded that, “Diversity facilitates friction that enhances deliberation and upends conformity.”

Economic “bubbles” occur when the majority of traders, probably influenced by a type of “groupthink,” set inaccurate prices, leading to a mismatch between market prices and true asset values.

Irving Janis

Irving Janis

Groupthink can occur when three conditions interact, according to Yale’s Irving Janis:

  • Group Cohesiveness
    • Deindividuation,” when group cohesiveness becomes more important than individual dissenting views
  • Group Structure
  • Context
    • Stressful external threats
    • Recent failures
    • Decision-making difficulties
    • Moral dilemmas.
Scott E. Page

Scott E. Page

A mathematical model, developed by University of Michigan’s Scott E. Page and Lu Hong of Loyola University, demonstrated that a wider range of viewpoints leads to less groupthink and more balanced decisions.

Diverse groups ran into fewer solution “dead ends” in developing solutions and decisions than homogenous groups full of smart individuals, who tended to think similarly.

David A. Thomas

David A. Thomas

Likewise, additional experimental evidence by Georgetown’s David A Thomas and Robin J. Ely of Harvard confirmed that identity-diverse groups can outperform homogeneous groups.
Group errors depended on group member ability and member diversity, expressed in the formula:

Collective Accuracy = Average Accuracy + Diversity.

To test the impact of group diversity on market “bubbles,” Levine’s group constructed experimental markets in Singapore and Texas, USA, in which participants traded stocks to earn money.

Evan Apfelbaum

Evan Apfelbaum

More than 175 volunteers with backgrounds in business or finance were randomly-assigned to groups of six ethnically homogeneous or ethnically diverse participants.

Traders knew the ethnic composition of their groups, but they couldn’t communicate with each other.
In addition, their “trades” of dividend-paying stock during 10-rounds were anonymous.

Homogeneous groups set inflated selling prices, yet traders in those groups still bought the stock, resulting in increasing stock prices.

Mark Bernard

Mark Bernard

In contrast, traders in diverse groups refused inflated selling prices, so the stock price fell to approximately the price in an “ideal” market with “rational” traders.

When traders and other decision-makers come from similar ethnic, social, and attitudinal backgrounds, they tend to place undue confidence in others’ opinions and decisions, and tend not to subject them to rigorous analysis and scrutiny.

Valerie Bartelt

Valerie Bartelt

As a result, they may be more likely to accept prices and deals that deviate from actual underlying values, noting that “homogeneity…imbues people with false confidence in the judgment of coethnics, discouraging them from scrutinizing behavior.”

  • How do you mitigate “groupthink” in organizational decision-making?

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Recognizing, Coping with Long-Lasting Emotions

Philippe Verduyn

Philippe Verduyn

Most people feel sad longer than they feel ashamed, surprised, irritated or bored because sadness is most often triggered by important events that require time for emotional and cognitive processing, according to University of Leuven’s Philippe Verduyn and Saskia Lavrijsen.

Saskia Lavrijssen

Saskia Lavrijssen

This finding that emotions triggered by personally-important events are longer-lasting may seen intuitively obvious, but Verduyn and Lavrjsen empirically validated earlier hypotheses suggested by University of Amsterdam’s Joep Sonnemans and Nico Frijda as well as University of Leuven’s Verduyn, Iven Van Mechelen, and Francis Tuerlinckx.

Joep Sonnemans

Joep Sonnemans

They asked more than 230 volunteers to remember recent emotional episodes and report their duration.

Klaus R. Scherer

Klaus R. Scherer

Participants also described their strategies to evaluate and deal with emotions categorized by Swiss Center for Affective Sciences’ s Klaus R. Scherer, including admiration, anger, anxiety, being touched, boredom, compassion, contentment, desperation, disappointment, disgust, enthusiasm, fear, gratitude, guilt, hatred, hope, humiliation, irritation, jealousy, joy, pride, relaxation, relief, sadness, shame, stress, and surprise.

James Gross

James Gross

Volunteers rated coping strategies according to a model of emotional regulation developed by Stanford’s James Gross and Ross A. Thompson of University of California Davis:

  • Situation selection – Entering the situation that elicited emotion
  • Situation modification – Trying to change the event that elicited the emotion
  • Distraction – Attempting to distract attention from the emotional situation
  • Rumination – Continued thinking about feelings and consequences of the event
  • Reflecting – Considering the emotion-eliciting event, but not repetitively ruminating
  • Reappraisal – Trying to differently view the emotion-eliciting event
  • Emotional suppression – Attempting to stop experiencing the emotion
  • Expressive suppression – Trying not expressing the emotion.
Iven Van Mechelen

Iven Van Mechelen

Participants also rated their appraisal of the situation that triggered emotion based on Scherer’s Geneva Appraisal Questionnaire:

  • Event importance – Extent the event that elicited the emotion was important to them
  • Event impact – Advantages and disadvantages of the event that elicited the emotion
  • Other responsibility – Degree that someone else was responsible for the emotion-eliciting event
  • Self responsibility – Degree that they were responsible for the emotion-eliciting event
  • Problem-focused coping – Extent that they could change something about the emotion- eliciting event
  • Emotion-focused coping – Extent that they could change something about the emotion elicited by the event
  • Expectedness – Degree to which they anticipated the emotion-eliciting event
  • Negative impact on self-image – Extent to which they judged the emotion-evoking event as reducing self-esteem
  • Injustice – Degree to which they judged the emotion-eliciting event as unjust
  • Immorality – Extent to which they judged the emotion-eliciting event as immoral.

Verduyn and Lavrijsen differentiated emotions from moods by telling volunteers that an emotion is always elicited by an external or internal event with a specific onset point.

Karen Brans

Karen Brans

The team also provided two differing definitions of an emotion’s end point:
Half the participants were told than an emotion ends as soon as the emotion is no longer felt for the first time (except for sleep) whereas the remaining volunteers were told than an emotion ends as soon as one has fully recovered from the event.

Emotion duration differed for similar emotions, such as persistent guilt compared with transient shame, and longer-lasting anxiety contrasted with intense but fleeting fear.

Susan Nolen-Hoeksema

Susan Nolen-Hoeksema

Two regulation strategiesrumination and reflection – and one appraisal dimensionevent importance – were associated with increased emotion duration, supporting theories by KU Leuven’s Iven Van Mechelen, Verduyn, and Karen Brans, and empirical research by Yale’s Susan Nolen-Hoeksema.

Of these 27 emotions, sadness lasted the longest.
Other positive and negative emotions, including shame, surprise, fear, disgust, boredom, being touched, irritated or feeling relief, rapidly dissipated, supporting other findings by Verduyn and Brans.

Though boredom, shame, and fear seem to endure endlessly, this research indicates that they are more transient than most people expect.
These unpleasant experiences pass, as do significant incidents that require time to “process.”

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  • What coping and appraisal strategies are most helpful in shortening the duration of unpleasant emotions?

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