ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (1): 106-116.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.00106

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The influence of embodied implicit power on fair decision making

LI Xiao-dan1,DING Dao-qun1,2,*,YE Hao-sheng3   

  1. 1 Department of Psychology, Hunan Normal University
    2 Key Laboratory for Cognition and Human Behavior of Human Province, Changsha 410081, China) (3 The Center for Mind and Brain Science, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
  • Received:2017-12-13 Published:2019-01-25 Online:2018-11-26
  • Contact: Dao-qun DING


An expansive posture is known to make an individual display more implicit power than a contracted posture. Moreover, the priming effect of an expansive body posture is cross-cultural. The perception of power triggered by an expansive body posture is considered to be implicit. Subjective scoring has been used in most previous studies of power posing. Several kinds of measurements have been used in behavioral research to assess the perception of power. These include ratings of subjective power, power-related word-completion tasks, scenarios about power-related behaviors such as talking first in a debate. Also, power activated by expansive postures is known to have a stronger effect than recalling power-related experiences. However, there is a paucity of evidence on embodied power and fair decision making in previous research on risky decisions for detecting the influence of embodied effect. The ultimatum game and the impunity game can be used to explore how embodied power impact fair decisions without risk factors. These games were used in the current study to examine whether the metaphorical coupling of body posture and power, affected an individual's fair decisions. In Experiment 1, the influence of body posture on the proposer of an impunity game was examined. We instructed participants to keep an expansive or a contracted posture in two blocks as a proposer in which they were told that the game role was chosen by themselves. Participants’ (N = 40) allocation of 30 RMB was analyzed in Experiment 1. Experiment 2 manipulated participants’ postures and fairness of offers in the ultimatum game. The manipulation of posture and the experimental situation in Experiment 2 and Experiment 3 were identical to Experiment 1. Experiment 3 manipulated participants’ postures and fairness of offers in the impunity game. The number of valid participants’ rejection rates in Experiment 2 and Experiment 3 were 45 and 40. The three experiments controlled for the risk factor, and the mood between blocks, as well as other confounding factors. The results of Experiment 1 showed that participants in expansive posture condition allocated more money for themselves than in the contract posture condition. The results of Experiment 2 indicated that the rejection rate for unfair distribution and the rejection rate for unfair offers were higher in the expansive posture condition than in the contracted posture condition in Experiment 3. This suggests that implicit power initiated by the expansive posture affected the rejection rate of unfair offers even if the participants could not punish the proposer. Merging data of Experiment 2 and Experiment 3 indicated that the game condition had a significant main effect on the rejection rate with the rejection rate in the impunity game being higher than in the ultimatum game. These results indicate that the implicit power initiated by an expansive posture makes individuals conduct more advantages and unfair distributions in the impunity game and more rejection of unfair offers in the ultimatum game than in the contracted posture condition. Simultaneously, the implicit power triggered by the expansive posture strengthened the responders’ aversion to unfair distributions and caused aversion for the profit motive, and thereby improved the rejection rate of unfair distribution of responders in the impunity game.

Key words: embodied cognition, power metaphor, fair decision making, ultimatum game, impunity game

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