Perception of power and desired societal change

Arkadiusz WASIEL (Presenter), Kuba KRYS (Presenter), Victoria YEUNG (Presenter)

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


Different theoretical frameworks portray the changes in societies’ development as a systematic pathway from strict hierarchy to a more democratic, egalitarian society, whether through the process of rationalization (Kalberg, 1980) or “human development syndrome” (Inglehart, Welzel, 2009). These paradigms are driven by Western thought and have limited application for non-Western societies (Eisenstadt, 2000).

The study was conducted to find out how the differences in desired shapes of societies could be explained by individual and cultural variance of people perceiving, comprehending, and interpreting those in power, referred to as power construals (Sassenberg, Ellemers, Scheepers, 2012). Power has different cultural effects, e.g., in East Asia, it is often socialized as beneficial to others, and in Western culture as beneficial to the person holding power (Torelli, Shavitt, 2010). We postulate that people construing power as opportunity desire social modernization and egalitarian development, but people construing power as responsibility endorse the traditional shape of society. On a larger scale, this relationship could predict democratic or authoritarian societal shifts.

The online correlational study was conducted in theUS, Poland, and Hong Kong. We employed ANOVA, multiple regression, and mediation analyses.

Results show that the desired developmental aims correspond to the way people construe power, with responsible power construal predicting conventional, traditional developmental aims in Poland and US, but not Hong Kong, and self-serving power construal predicting socially modernized, progressive change.

We suggest that people’s perception of those holding power may have a significant role in shaping their desired societal future.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2022
Event10th European Conference on Positive Psychology - Harpa, Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 29 Jun 202230 Jun 2022


Conference10th European Conference on Positive Psychology
Abbreviated titleECPP 2022
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Perception of power and desired societal change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this