Power and influence are commonly interchanged though this causes individuals to misunderstand the true meaning of each. Power and influence are defined differently. Power, is the ability an individual has to potentially influence others (Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy, 2012). Influence is defined as the actual change in the targeted individual’s attitude (Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy, 2012).
Displaying power can be as simple as attire or the way one dresses. After reading about attire and power I quickly thought back to my previous Psychology class, and our discussion on power. In our previous class we reviewed various experiments which compared compliance between those in high status attire and normative attire. The majority of the studies in fact did show those dressed in attire signaling power obtained more compliance than those dressed regular.
This past weekend I was at the pool with a few of my friends. A man was sitting in his trunks, shirtless, with no sign of him being in charge. Two of my friends were running and the man instructed them to stop. Due to the man not providing sufficient attire proving his power, my friends continued to run. The man quickly placed his shirt on signaling his power, and as soon as he placed his shirt on my friends stopped running. Though this is a very mild example of uniform and power, this shows the influence attire has on individuals.
Milgram’s experiment in delivering electric shocks of different voltages also signals the importance of authority. Milgram’s experiment found 70% of those participating conformed even when the learners were screaming in pain (Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy, 2012). Without taking into account the various types of taxonomy of social power, merely legitimate power plays a large role in whom an individual listens too.
Taxonomy of social power is broken down into, expert power, referent power, legitimate power, reward power, and coercive power. Expert power is defined as the knowledge the leader holds in a specific field, for example a doctor has more power over a nurse (Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy, 2012). Referent power is different and focuses on the relationship between the follower and leader (Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy, 2012). Legitimate power, which was previously talked about is simply the title one holds, which could be a boss or teacher (Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy, 2012). Reward power is also powerful and is the ability to deliver rewards which may vary in what they are. Last but not least is coercive power, this power is opposite of reward and is actually punishing an individual for not complying with a task (Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy, 2012).
Various types of power may lead to different impacts brought to the followers. Using one type of power may be more beneficial in one situation but not another. The amount of power attire has on conformity is shocking to many, for many people do not realize how much impact attire can have on a person in conforming.
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