Consideration is given to the paradoxical misuse of power by those who perceive themselves as powerless. A general model is presented to account for the coercive response style often shown by adults with low perceived power when they are placed in a position of authority (e.g., as parents or teachers). Specific hypotheses are tested here concerning control‐oriented cognitive activity and speech patterns shown by “powerless” adults when their authority is challenged. Women with high or low perceived power (as measured by the Parent Attribution Test) attempted to teach a computer game to a responsive or unresponsive child. “Powerless” women showed high levels of control‐oriented appraisal activity preceding teaching interactions and a high level of nonfluency during teaching interactions (an ineffective speech style). It was concluded that the responses shown by “powerless” women set the stage for misunderstanding and future conflict.
Journal of Social Issues – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 1999
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