The Power Matching Effect: The Dynamic Interplay of Communicator and Audience Power in Persuasion



The current research explores how position in a hierarchy affects both the development of and receptiveness to persuasive messages. We predict that psychological states of power and powerlessness determine both communicator tendencies and audience sensitivities in persuasion contexts. At the delivery stage, we propose that high-power communicators will deliver more competent messages, whereas low-power communicators will deliver warmer messages. At the reception stage, we propose that high-power audiences will embrace competent messages, whereas low-power audiences will be more receptive to warm messages. Across six experiments using multiple operationalizations of power,we discovered a power matching effect: high-power communicators were more effective in persuading high-power audiences, whereas low-power communicators were more effective in persuading low-power audiences. We established the underlying role of warmth and competence in driving the power matching effect through both mediation and moderation. The power matching effect raises the broader possibility that persuasion is more effective when communicators and audiences are experiencing the same psychological state.

David Dubois is a Doctoral Candidate at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. His current research interests are Status, Social Influence and Persuasion, Information Transmission.

This research seminar is organised by the Erasmus Centre for Marketing of Innovation (ECMI).
Contact information:
Dr. G. Liberali