The impact of power on information processing depends on cultural orientation

Carlos J. Torelli, Sharon Shavitt

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24 Scopus citations


Two studies show that different culturally based concepts of interpersonal power have distinct implications for information processing. People with a vertical individualist (VI) cultural orientation view power in personalized terms (power is for gaining status over and recognition by others), whereas people with a horizontal collectivist (HC) cultural orientation view power in socialized terms (power is for benefitting and helping others). The distinct goals associated with these power concepts are served by different mindsets, such as stereotyping others versus learning the individuating needs of others. Therefore, for high-VI individuals, making personalized power salient increases stereotyping in processing product information. That is, they recognize better information that is congruent with their prior product expectations, relative to their recognition of incongruent information. In contrast, for high-HC people, making socialized power salient increases individuating processes, characterized by better memory for incongruent information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)959-967
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article is based in part on a doctoral dissertation completed by Carlos J. Torelli under the direction of Sharon Shavitt and submitted to the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Portions of this research were presented at the 2007 North American Conference of the Association for Consumer Research. This research was supported by grants to Carlos J. Torelli from the Irwin Foundation , the FMC Technologies Inc. Educational Fund (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), the Sheth Foundation , and the Carlson School of Management (University of Minnesota). Preparation of this article was also supported by Grant 1R01HD053636-01A1 from the National Institutes of Health and Grant 0648539 from the National Science Foundation to Sharon Shavitt and Grant 63842 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to Sharon Shavitt and Carlos J. Torelli. We are grateful to Patrick Vargas, Madhu Viswanathan, and Tiffany White for their valuable comments.


  • Cultural values
  • Information-processing
  • Mindsets
  • Power


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