NIJMEGEN, Netherlands, May 19 (UPI) -- Being put in a weak role may impair a person's cognitive functioning and, as a result, their ability to get ahead, Dutch and U.S. researchers say.
Researchers from Radboud University Nijmegen and VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in the United States say their results have "direct implications for management and organizations."
The study, published in Psychological Science, found that lacking power impaired people's ability to keep track of ever-changing information, to parse out irrelevant information and to successfully plan ahead to achieve their goals.
The researchers say executive functions help people maintain and pursue their goals in difficult, distracting situations, but that ability is impaired by being put in a position with little power.
The researchers say their work illustrates how hierarchies perpetuate themselves. By randomly assigning individuals to high and low-power conditions, the research demonstrates that simply lacking power can automatically lead to performance that reinforces one's low standing, sending the powerless toward a destiny of dispossession.