Culture and Concepts of Power

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Five studies indicate that conceptualizations of power are important elements of culture and serve culturally relevant goals. These studies provide converging evidence that cultures nurture different views of what is desirable and meaningful to do with power. Vertical individualism is associated with a conceptualization of power in personalized terms (i.e., power is for advancing one's personal status and prestige), whereas horizontal collectivism is associated with a conceptualization of power in socialized terms (i.e., power is for benefiting and helping others). Cultural variables are shown to predict beliefs about appropriate uses of power, episodic memories about power, attitudes in the service of power goals, and the contexts and ways in which power is used and defended. Evidence for the cultural patterning of power concepts is observed at both the individual level and the cultural-group level of analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-723
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Cultural orientation
  • Culture
  • Power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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