Identity and Professional Networking

Raj, M., Fast, N.J., and Fisher, O. (2017). Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43, 772-784.

Despite evidence that large professional networks afford a host of financial and professional benefits, people vary in how motivated they are to build such networks. To help explain this variance, the present article moves beyond a rational self-interest account to examine the possibility that identity shapes individuals’ intentions to network. Study 1 established a positive association between viewing professional networking as identity-congruent and the tendency to prioritize strengthening and expanding one’s professional network. Study 2 revealed that manipulating the salience of the self affects networking intentions, but only among those high in networking identity-congruence. Study 3 further established causality by experimentally manipulating identity-congruence to increase networking intentions. Study 4 examined whether identity or self-interest is a better predictor of networking intentions, providing support for the former. These findings indicate that identity influences the networks people develop. Implications for research on the self, identity-based motivation, and professional networking are discussed.

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When the Bases of Social Hierarchy Collide: Power Without Status Drives Interpersonal Conflict

Anicich, E.M., Fast, N.J., Halevy, N., and Galinsky, A.D. (2016). Organization Science, 27, 123-140.

Leveraging the social hierarchy literature, the present research offers a role-based account of the antecedents of interpersonal conflict. Specifically, we suggest that the negative feelings and emotions resulting from the experience of occupying a low-status position interact with the action-facilitating effects of power to produce vicious cycles of interpersonal conflict and demeaning behavior. Five studies demonstrate that power without status leads to interpersonal conflict and demeaning treatment, both in specific dyadic work relationships and among organizational members more broadly. Study 1 provides initial support for the prediction that employees in low-status/high-power roles engage in more conflict with coworkers than all other combinations of status and power. In Studies 2a and 2b, a yoked experimental design replicated this effect and established low-status/high-power roles as a direct source of the interpersonal conflict and demeaning treatment. Study 3 used an experimental manipulation of relative status and power within specific dyadic relationships in the workplace and found evidence of a vicious cycle of interpersonal conflict and demeaning treatment within any dyad that included a low-status/high-power individual. Finally, Study 4 utilized survey and human resource data from a large government agency to replicate the power without status effect on interpersonal conflict and demonstrate that power interacts with subjective status change to produce a similar effect; increasing the status of a high-power role reduces conflict whereas decreasing its status increases conflict. Taken together, these findings offer a role-based account of interpersonal conflict and highlight the importance of making a theoretical distinction between status and power.

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Feeling High But Playing Low: Power, Need to Belong, and Submissive Behavior

Rios, K., Fast, N.J., and Gruenfeld, D.H. (2015). Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41, 1135-1146.

Past research has demonstrated a causal relationship between power and dominant behavior, motivated in part by the desire to maintain the social distinctiveness created by one’s position of power. In this article, we test the novel idea that some individuals respond to high-power roles by displaying not dominance but instead submissiveness. We theorize that high-power individuals who are also high in the need to belong experience the social distinctiveness associated with power as threatening, rather than as an arrangement to protect and maintain. We predict that such individuals will counter their feelings of threat with submissive behaviors to downplay their power and thereby reduce their distinctiveness. We found support for this hypothesis across three studies using different operationalizations of power, need to belong, and submissiveness. Furthermore, Study 3 illustrated the mediating role of fear of (positive) attention in the relationship between power, need to belong, and submissive behavior.

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