5
EFFECTS OF ADJUSTMENT ON THE PERCEPTION AND EXERTION OF SOCIAL POWER 1

SIDNEY ROSEN

The concept "power" has been treated by both social theorists (5, 6, 14, 16, 18) and students of personality (1, 2, 9, 11, 13, 14, 20). But, despite a growing body of empirical research on power (2, 6 -- pp. 428-92, 7, 15), very few investigators have attempted systematically to link the group-relevant aspects of power with those involving personality dynamics.

A typical approach to the study of power is illustrated by personality theorists who have interested themselves in the psychopathology of power. These writers have generally associated intense power needs with interpersonal maladjustment, both of which are essentially attributes of personality. A broader analysis would require an examination of the relations between personality and social structure. Is there, for example, any relation between the intensity of an individual's power needs and his position in a power system or between personal maladjustment and the possession of power?

The present study focuses upon the latter relation. How does a person's degree of adjustment affect his actual power in social groups? In order to answer this question it is necessary to look more closely at the nature of "adjustment" and "power." It may be assumed that one characteristic of a person who is persistently maladjusted in his interpersonal relations is that he has failed to develop adequate perceptual and behavioral skills for dealing with others. More specifically, a maladjusted person is deficient in his ability to

____________________
1
This paper is based primarily on a dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the doctoral requirements in the Program of Social Psychology at the University of Michigan. This writer is indebted to Drs. Ronald Lippitt, Dorwin Cartwright, Roger W. Heyns, William C. Morse, Harold L. Rausch, and Guy E. Swanson, for guidance received.

The investigation was initiated within the context of a broad program of studies concerning the dynamics of power among children's groups. The program, which began in 1948 and ended in 1951, was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health of the U. S. Public Health Service. The principal investigators were Drs. Ronald Lippitt and Fritz Redl. Project directors, successively, were Dr. Norman Polansky, and this writer.

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