The Power in Being Yourself: Feeling Authentic Enhances the Sense of Power

Muping Gan, Daniel Heller, Serena Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Across five experiments (total N = 715), we propose that people can gain a subjective sense of power by being authentic—in other words, state authenticity breeds power. Supporting this, participants reported feeling more powerful when they visualized themselves behaving authentically versus inauthentically (Study 1), or recalled a time when they felt authentic versus inauthentic (Studies 2-4). Studies 3 and 4 revealed that authenticity (vs. inauthenticity) likely drives the authenticity-to-power effect. Finally, Study 5 showed that perceivers infer others’ power and make important downstream judgments (i.e., likelihood of being an effective negotiator and leader), based on others’ authenticity. Importantly, our findings could not be explained by positive affect or by preexisting power differences, and held across diverse situations (e.g., those absent of social pressure). Implications for state authenticity as a strategic means to attain power and for understanding its dynamic nature and effects are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1460-1472
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • authenticity
  • experimental research
  • power emergence
  • social power


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