Sometimes, dealing with an unhappy boss, too many bills, too little money and other day-to-day life challenges can leave you feeling like you have little control over your life. But don’t allow yourself to feel helpless; new research indicates that individuals who feel powerful are more likely to make decisions that will benefit their future selves.
According to research from USC Marshall School of Business, people who feel less powerful are more likely to make choices that lead to instant gratification, while those who feel important make decisions based upon future wishes.
“Consistent with our predictions, we found that feeling powerful actually increased people’s willingness to wait for larger rewards,” reported researcher Priyanka Joshi. “We also found that the experience of power in the workplace is positively correlated with one’s total accrued assets, even after controlling for more likely factors such as annual income and age.”
The researchers attribute instant gratification-based decision making brought on by feeling less powerful to a phenomenon known as “temporal discounting.” It has implications for everything from investing money and saving for retirement to developing a business strategy.
According to Joshi, people who feel less than powerful can reduce temporal discounting by “power priming,” or focusing on a time in their lives when they did hold power over people. Such times may include when they were in charge of a club or of planning an event. Bosses who want to avoid temporal discounting in their employees can help simply by giving more power to the workers.
“By revisiting experiences from the past, one typically experiences the same feelings they had during that time,” Joshi said. “Of course, the best way for organizations to make their employees feel powerful is to actually give them more power.”