Induced Social Power Improves Visual Working Memory

Britt Hadar, Roy Luria, Nira Liberman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The possibility that social power improves working memory relative to conditions of powerlessness has been invoked to explain why manipulations of power improve performance in many cognitive tasks. Yet, whether power facilitates working memory performance has never been tested directly. In three studies, we induced high or low sense of power using the episodic recall task and tested participants’ visual working memory capacity. We found that working memory capacity estimates were higher in the high-power than in the low-power condition in the standard change-detection task (Study 1), in a variation of the task that introduced distractors alongside the targets (Study 2), and in a variation that used real-world objects (Study 3). Studies 2 and 3 also tested whether high power improved working memory relative to low power by enhancing filtering efficiency, but did not find support for this hypothesis. We discuss implications for theories of both power and working memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-297
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • cognitive performance
  • filtering
  • social power
  • visual working memory


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