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June 07, 2012


Luis Enrique

like Norm I was surprised - I'd have expected dividing the cookie equally to be the most common response. Lewis does not say what proportion of times the 'leader' ate the fourth cookie. Salacious details ("ate it with gusto: lips smacking, mouth open, drool at the corners of their mouths") also make me a bit suspicious.

Tom Addison

It's a shame that the Pygmalion effect doesn't apply to the England national football team, although I suppose at least some degree of intelligence is required for it to have a positive effect (i.e. John Terry getting skinned by a German goal kick).


Imagine how much worst this becomes once that kind of conformity is maintained for a sustained period of time! That's how tangled up we now are. I am not much reasured that we now have some evidence!


LE - Lewis is only adding a tiny bit more colour than the original authors:

"Coding of the videotaped interactions also revealed that high-power individuals were more likely to chew with their mouths open and to get crumbs on their faces and on the table."

(from a review, http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/dacherkeltner/docs/keltner.power.psychreview.2003.pdf)

Account Deleted

The problem with this experiment, and the Stanford and Oak Hill ones, is that it relies on students. While the general conclusions about power are probably sound, I can't help feeling that using biddable ingenues amplifies the result.

You'd hope an experiment using adults with some political nous or negotiating skills would have resulted in a few of the groups challenging the leader.


The last comment misses the point. Being a student is occupying a social niche involving a form of social conformity. So students are no different than any other group subject to social expectation. Look at the power struggles among professors in Academia, it is quite the same. Do only virtuous professors win the struggle? Or the ones with more power from social expectations. Ask Paul Krugman.


Interesting - and the comments. Could we consider the means by which privileged groups go on to boost, categorise, sideline and eject members who succeed, show specialist abilities, prove not so good and prove unsatisfactory or rebellious. I am thinking of military officer training, management training and academic teams. Influences to consider might be innate ability, expected ability (family history), string-pulling, coaching in subject skills and coaching in political skills. Are there any good readable and focussed studies in this area?

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