clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Feeling powerful increases how much time you think you have

New, 17 comments

A new study titled "Power and Time Availability" by the University of California Berkeley has found that the more power you possess, the more time you feel like you have at your disposal. The study asked a few hundred people, some primed as "bosses," and others as "employees," to fill out surveys about how much time they felt they had to complete a specific set of brain teasers. They found that the "bosses" often thought they could pack more tasks in to a finite amount of time,

"Power increases perceptions of available time"

"Four studies experimentally demonstrated that power increases perceptions of available time, and that perceived control over time underlies this effect," write the study's authors Alice Moon and Serena Chen. In other words, your boss thinks they have more control over time, and thus feels like they have more time to spend. "The CEO who can delegate her tasks to her subordinates may feel she has more available time than the assistant who has to follow his supervisor's orders and undertake additional tasks," write Moon and Chen.

The study stretched its conclusions about perceived control to another hypothesis, that powerful people are less stressed. The study provided some initial data to confirm Moon and Chen's suspicions. "Increases in perceived time availability leads powerful individuals to feel less stressed," they say. This is due to a perception of increased control over objectively uncontrollable events, like the 24 hours in a day, or like the outcome of a dice roll.

The results reflect past psychology experiments, The Atlantic points out, namely one 2009 study. "[Powerful] people whose luck, in the experiment, depended on a favorable die roll more frequently preferred to roll the die themselves than to let others do it for them," The Atlantic's Joe Pinsker writes, "suggesting that to some extent they felt the outcome was in their hands."