'Power key to happiness and contentment'
Tel Aviv, Jan 29 : Being in power actually makes people happier and more contented at the workplace and in interpersonal relationships, even though stereotypes would suggest otherwise, says an Israeli study.
Drawing on personality and power research, Yona Kifer of Tel Aviv University and colleagues hypothesised that holding a position of authority might enhance subjective well-being through an increased feeling of authenticity.
They predicted that because the powerful are able to "navigate their lives in congruence with their internal desires and inclinations," they feel as if they are acting more authentically - more "themselves" - and thus are more content, the journal Psychological Science reports.
In their first experiment, the researchers surveyed over 350 participants to determine if internal feelings of power are tied to subjective well-being in different contexts: at work, with friends, or in romantic relationships.
The results indicated that people who feel powerful in any context tend to be more content, according to a Tel Aviv statement.
The most powerful people surveyed felt 16 percent more satisfied with their lives than the least powerful people. This effect was most pronounced at the workplace: Powerful employees were 26 percent more satisfied with their jobs than their powerless colleagues.
The power-based discrepancy in happiness was smaller for friendships and romantic relationships. The researchers posit that this may be because friendships are associated with a sense of community rather than hierarchy.
In the second and third experiments, Kifer and colleagues examined the causal relationship between power, feelings of authenticity, and general well-being, by manipulating each of the factors independently.
The results revealed that being in a position of power causes people to feel more authentic and "true to themselves" - that is, it allows their actions to more closely reflect their beliefs and desires. Feelings of authenticity, in turn, enhance subjective feelings of well-being and happiness.
"By leading people to be true to their desires and inclinations - to be authentic - power leads individuals to experience greater happiness," the researchers conclude.