This dissertation examines the effect of power and the associated autonomy on action identification (Vallacher & Wegner, 1985). It examines the idea that your own actions, which are perceived as autonomous, are identified at a higher level, i.e. are described more often in relation to the overall goals than the actions that are perceived as being influenced by others. Accordingly, people, who perceive themselves as powerful and autonomous, choose a higher level of action identification of with respect to their own actions.
Study 1 uses a modified version of the behaviour identification form (BIF; Vallacher & Wegner, 1989) to show that in comparison to actions, which are described as being influenced by others, actions, which are described as self-determined or autonomous, are described more frequently at a higher level of action identification, i.e. in relation to the overall goals and rarely by more specific descriptions of the actual action process.
Using a modified BIF, Study 2 also shows that the actions of other persons are described more frequently at a lower level of action identification when someone has prompted these actions according to their description himself/herself, than when that person decided himself/herself to carry out these actions. This relationship can also be explained by the assumption that an exertion of influence is a limitation of the autonomy of the actions of another person, and this reduction in autonomy leads to a reduction in the level of action identification.
Study 3 shows that after the activation of the concept of autonomy by semantic priming, participants describe both their own actions and those of another person on a higher level of action identification.
Study 4 shows that male participants who have a relatively powerful position in a role-play have an increased sense of autonomy and subsequently describe actions more frequently on a higher level of action identification, when compared to male subjects who have a relatively powerless role. In this study it does not matter whether the actions are your own or of another person. In women, neither an increased sense of autonomy is seen in the relatively powerful role nor an increased frequency with which the higher level of action identification is chosen.
In Study 5 correlative relationships between personality variables are examined. A positive relationship is seen between self-reported generalized sense of power and the frequency, with which the actions are described at higher levels of action identification. This relationship disappears when the self-reported feeling of autonomy is controlled for.
The results indicate a relationship between autonomy and action identification, which is also the mechanism of action for the relationship between power and action identification.
It remains unclear how the effect on identification of others actions unfolds. In addition, it is discussed to what extent the interpretation of power - as a situation of increased responsibility or increased autonomy - may lead to different effects of power on action identification.
Moreover, the question is exeamined, to what extent the higher abstraction of actions is also associated with a higher abstraction in other areas of information processing. For this purpose, the processing of visual stimuli is examined as an example. The data indicates a relationship between power, autonomy and a global processing of visual stimuli. The lack of correlation between abstract action identification and global visual processing, however, indicates that the mechanisms are independent of each other.
|Advisor:||Strack , Fritz , Englich , Birte|
|School:||Bayerische Julius-Maximilians-Universitaet Wuerzburg (Germany)|
|Source:||DAI-C 81/7(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
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