October 17, 2011

Power, Optimism, and Risk-Taking, By Cameron Anderson, University of California, Berkeley, and

Power, Optimism, and Risk-Taking

Cameron Anderson, PhD

Cameron Anderson, PhD

By Cameron Anderson, University of California, Berkeley, and
Adam D. Galinsky, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

Power fascinates. People spend an inordinate amount of time attending to, thinking about, and discussing the thoughts and behaviors of powerful and prestigious individuals—be they heads of state, CEOs, or prominent members of their local church, club, or community. Though typically viewed as frivolous and the province of gossip and gawking, this interest in powerholders is often important and useful. On a practical level, understanding the minds of those with power helps people appreciate how their leaders make decisions—decisions that impact people’s own lives. The behaviors of the powerful have inordinate pull, in that their actions have greater impact and matter more compared to those without power. On a theoretical level, understanding powerholders’ behavior can also provide a window into human nature more broadly; for only when people possess power do some of their deepest desires and motivations reveal themselves in the light of day. (more…)

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