We have always believed that power corrupts and to add to that absolute power corrupts absolutely. However new research seems to disagree with that long-held negative view on power. Feelings of power at work, with friends, or in a romantic relationship may actually make people happier. They feel more authentic because of the power.
Yona Kifer of Tel Aviv University in Israel and colleagues say, as per the study, a position of authority may enhance subjective well-being through an heightened sense of authenticity. The research team predicts that as result of being able to “navigate their lives in congruence with their internal desires and inclinations,” the powerful believe that they are acting more authentically—more “themselves”—and therefore feel more contented/satisfied.
The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
In their first experiment, the team asked over 350 participants to undertake a survey to determine if internal feelings of power are related to a subjective wellbeing in different domains of life: at work, with friends, or in romantic relationships.
The survey results showed that people who feel powerful in any domain are likely to be more satisfied with life.
The most powerful people felt 16% more satisfied with their lives than the least powerful people. This effect was especially true at the workplace: Powerful employees were 26% more satisfied with their jobs than their powerless workmates.
In the second and third experiments, Kifer and colleagues studied the causal relationship between power, feelings of authenticity, and general wellbeing, by manipulating each of the factors independently. The results indicated that a position of power causes people to feel more authentic and “true to themselves”. The power enables actions to in congruence with their personal beliefs and desires.
“By leading people to be true to their desires and inclinations — to be authentic — power leads individuals to experience greater happiness,” the researchers conclude.