It probably shouldn't come as any surprise but a new study finds that powerful people feel, and express, less gratitude than the rest of us.
According to newswise.com, "powerful people in the upper echelons of organizations have plenty to be grateful for, but new Cornell University research indicates that higher-power individuals feel and express less gratitude to their subordinates. "
Here's what the study found, as reported at newswise:
People with more power express less gratitude to others than lower-power individuals when they receive a favor;
People with more power actually feel less gratitude about the favors they receive than individuals with less power;
People with less power feel and express more gratitude than higher-power individuals due to experiencing increased concern about interpersonal relations;
People with more power who receive favors feel and express less gratitude than lower-power favor recipients due to an increased sense of psychological entitlement.
Overall, the work done by Alice Lee, assistant professor in the ILR School, and her co-authors, Eric Anicich of the University of Southern California and Shi Liu of Columbia University, suggests that gratitude expressions can go a long way, "especially when coming from someone above you, and suggests a number of takeaways for individuals looking to increase the flow of gratitude in their organizations,” Lee says at newswise.
“First and foremost, leaders should not underestimate the impact of expressing gratitude when in a position of power. Some managers may believe that expressing gratitude has little effect on their followers; however, our findings coupled with a growing literature in the field suggest that recipients of gratitude feel much more positively than the expressers expect. This is especially so in the current climate of widespread remote work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which inevitably creates greater challenges for communication," she adds.
Through their studies, the researchers learned that higher-power individuals expressed less gratitude because they felt more entitled to receive favors and benefits from others, while lower-power individuals expressed more gratitude because they felt a stronger pull to cultivate close interpersonal relationships with others.
The bottom line? The way someone treats you tells you more about them, than you.