Some of the material in is restricted to members of the community. By logging in, you may be able to gain additional access to certain collections or items. If you have questions about access or logging in, please use the form on the Contact Page.
Feeling powerful or powerless can affect the manner in which one processes persuasive appeals. Previous research suggests that people who lack power tend to engage in careful, deliberate forms of cognition. In contrast, high power has been linked with cognitive strategies, such as stereotyping and heuristic processing, that emphasize speed and simplicity over accuracy. Thus, previous research suggests that powerful people may be persuaded by the heuristic content of appeals more than powerless people, because powerful people may not evaluate those appeals as carefully. The current research, in contrast, presents a more nuanced set of predictions regarding the effects of power on heuristic processing: individuals primed with high versus low power will respond differentially to two commonly used persuasive appeals that rely on different heuristic cues: social proof and scarcity. The social proof appeal is based on making a product or behavior seem popular and consistent with social norms. The scarcity principle is based on making a product seem rare or exclusive. Two studies test the prediction that people primed with high power will be especially responsive to scarcity appeals, whereas people primed with low power will be especially responsive to social proof appeals. In Study 1, participants were primed with high or low power and read a review of a restaurant that contained either a scarcity appeal or a social proof appeal. Participants primed with high power were susceptible to the scarcity appeal, whereas participants primed with low power were susceptible to the social proof appeal. Study 2 tested two possible mechanisms underlying those effects: affiliative motivation and BIS/BAS engagement. Contrary to predictions, no effect of the power prime was found on either of those two putative mediating variables. However, relationships between the mediators and persuasion were observed. As predicted, high levels of affiliative motivation and relatively high BIS were both linked with heightened susceptibility to the social proof appeal. Directions for future research on power and persuasion are discussed.
Affiliation, BIS/BAS, Dominance, Heuristics, Persuasion, Power
Date of Defense
June 13, 2013.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Jon Maner, Professor Directing Dissertation; Neil Jumonville, University Representative; Mike Kaschak, Committee Member; Mary Gerend, Committee Member; Ashby Plant, Committee Member.
Florida State University
Use and Reproduction
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s). The copyright in theses and dissertations completed at Florida State University is held by the students who author them.