The current research examines the extent to which visual perception is distorted by one's experience of power. Specifically, does power distort impressions of another person's physical size? Two experiments found that participants induced to feel powerful through episodic primes (Study 1) and legitimate leadership role manipulations (Study 2) systematically underestimated the size of a target, and participants induced to feel powerless systematically overestimated the size of the target. These results emerged whether the target person was in a photograph or face-to-face. These findings suggest that the experience of powerfulness and powerlessness leads people to misperceive complementary power cues in others, and in doing so, distorts what they actually see. We discuss how these findings elucidate the interplay between how psychological states influence perception, and through this, facilitate social coordination.
Andy J. Yap, Malia Mason, and Daniel Ames
Journal Article
Publication Date
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Full Citation

Yap, Andy J., Malia Mason, and Daniel Ames
. “The powerful size others down: The link between power and estimates of others' size.”
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
, (January 01, 2013):