Beware the Threatened, Power-Hungry Boss

The Bosses – 2nd installment)
Maner and Case led undergraduate students in one study to believe that they would be leading a group in performing a verbal task. The better the group scored, the more prizes it would win.

Participants were told that one of their group members in particular was very highly skilled at the task. Participants were then assigned to one of three experimental conditions. In the first, they were told that as the leader, they would be responsible for supervising the task and dividing the prizes among the group. In the second, they were told that they would supervise the task and allot prizes, but also that the hierarchy was malleable and someone else could become leader. The third condition was an egalitarian control group where there was no leader and all group members would share the prizes equally.

The researchers sought to answer two main questions: Which leaders under what scenarios are most likely to sabotage their groups’ communication and cohesion—even knowing that cohesion can improve a group’s performance? And will they be more likely to do so by isolating the highly skilled group member?
They found that, as predicted, participants in the malleable hierarchy who had previously scored highly on a test assessing their desire for power were the most likely saboteurs. And they were most likely to go after that one highly skilled group member

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