Does the Sense of Power Influence Reputational Concern? Tests With Episodic and Semantic Power Priming


  • Hirotaka Imada Orcid
  • Tim Hopthrow Orcid
  • Hannah Zibell Orcid


Reputational concern shapes various social behaviours, since having a negative reputation often results in receiving negative social consequences such as ostracism and punishment. As such, individuals are motivated to avoid displaying socially disapproved behaviour. Previous studies have found that individuals with power (i.e., those who can asymmetrically influence others) tend to show various behaviours that would damage their reputation (e.g., aggression and exploitation). Taken together, we hypothesised that power would be associated with the extent to which individuals are concerned about their reputation. More specifically, we hypothesised that those who have a high and low sense of power would experience reduced and increased reputational concern, respectively. To test the relationship, we conducted three preregistered studies with commonly used power priming methods: episodic priming (Studies 1 and 3) and semantic power priming (Study 2). In Studies 1 and 2, the power priming methods failed to significantly influence the sense of power or reputational concern. In Study 3, we sought to overcome potential methodological issues with online episodic priming, and a modified high power episodic priming was successful. Yet, we did not find evidence for the hypothesised relationship between the experimentally induced sense of power and reputational concern. Our three studies offer valuable implications not only for further research on the relationship between reputational concern and power but also for the effectiveness of power priming methods.