Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Power transference is illusory

Restaurant's use the visit of a famous or powerful individual to sell the idea that this place is a must visit. Everyone wants to associate with powerful beautiful people and wants to frequent locations where these individuals congregate. Everyone wants the feeling of the illusory power transference. The problem is of course that it not real. When a local sports team wins a championship there is little tangible improvement in the lives of the individuals in the locality however everyone feels a sense of belonging and a surge of power from the success of the surrogate team.

Robin Hansen explains:

“Illusory Power Transference” is the academic name for feeling powerful due to a superficial connection to a powerful person, such as having once been in the same room:

We propose that … associating with the powerful CEO suggests that he, too, must be powerful. Moreover, this minimal connection with the CEO would actually lead him to act as if he personally possessed more power when making important decisions on the job and interacting with others. ….
We use two experiments to … demonstrate that men who have a tenuous association with a powerful other (versus a powerless or equal-power other) felt more powerful and were more optimistic, confident, and risk seeking, even though they could not leverage the associate’s power. (more; HT Tyler Cowen)