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The Dual Role of Power in Resisting Social Influence

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The Dual Role of Power in Resisting Social Influence
Mehdi Mourali and Zhiyong Yang

Journal of Consumer Research
Volume 40, Number 3, October 2013
Published by The University of Chicago Press

Power enhances consumer ability to resist social influence but produces different resistance outcomes, depending on the level of certainty with which consumers hold their own attitudes. When attitude certainty is high, empowered consumers resist social influence by discounting others’ opinions. When attitude certainty is low, empowered consumers intentionally diverge from others’ opinions to signal their independence. Data from the first two experiments provide consistent support for the dual impact of power. The last two experiments examine the processes leading to the reactant response. The experience of uncertainty weakens empowered consumer confidence in their sense of power, leading them to perceive others’ unsolicited opinions as a threat to their autonomy, which then triggers the reactant response. Finally, consistent with a self-presentation interpretation of reactance, power leads to reactance when evaluations are public but not when they are private.

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