Why Your Highness Needs the People: Comparing the Absolute and Relative Representation of Power in Vertical Space

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Social Psychology, ISSN: 1864-9335, Vol: 42, Issue: 3, Page: 205-213

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Lakens, Daniel; Semin, Gun R; Foroni, Francesco
Hogrefe Publishing Group; Hogrefe Verlag GmbH & Co. KG
Psychology; Arts and Humanities; Social Sciences; power; embodiment; representations; metaphors; concepts
article description
Earlier research (Schubert, 2005) showed that power is represented in vertical space: powerful = up and powerless = down. We propose that power is not simply structured in space in absolute terms, but that relational differences in power moderate the vertical representation of the powerful above the powerless. Two studies reveal that, when power differences are present (vs. absent), the vertical representation of power increases reliably. Power-related words were positioned higher in vertical space (Experiments 1A and 1B), and translated above guessing average by the upper higher one of two Chinese ideographs (Experiments 2A and 2B) when power was manipulated within rather than between participants in an experimental task. These studies support the view that power relations constitute an important aspect of the vertical representation of power. © 2011 Hogrefe Publishing.