Power affects almost all facets of social life, from the food people eat to how long they live. Power concerns are evident in most kinds of relationships, including intimate bonds, parent–child relationships, sibling relations, and relations between group members. This brief entry examines what social psychology has learned with respect to three questions concerning power: What is power? Where does it come from? And how does power influence behavior?

What is Power?

Power is typically defined according to two attributes: (1) the ability to control one's own outcomes and those of others and (2) the freedom to act. Power is related to but not synonymous with status, authority, and dominance. Status is the outcome of a social evaluation that produces differences in respect and prominence, which contribute ...

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