By Brett Spiegel
People often equate power with money and success. However, according to a new study presented at the annual conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in New Orleans, having a thicker skin may be the real secret weapon of the powerful.
Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, looked at people in authoritative roles -- at work and at home -- and found that they were quicker to cope and move on from experiences involving rejection. People in power were also found to pursue social bonding and community when faced with rejection.
"Powerful people appear to be better at dealing with the slings and arrows of social life, they're more buffered from the negative feelings that rejection typically elicits," said Maya Kuehn, lead study author and doctoral student in psychology at UC Berkeley, in a press release.
They reached this conclusion after analyzing the power dynamics of 445 men and women between the ages of 18 and 82 in both office and romantic relationships, homing in on their reactions to rejection.
In their professional capacity, participants were designated as either high level or low level and asked to respond to scenarios ranging from not being invited to the office holiday party to working with a colleague of the opposing rank who had rebuffed them. Those on the lower level felt hurt and insulted in both situations, but high level individuals appeared indifferent and sought out other activities.
"When rejected instead of accepted, subordinates reported lower self-esteem and greater negative emotion, but supervisors did not show an adverse reaction to rejection," said Kuehn in the release.
With regard to personal relationships, couples were asked to rate their partner's power level in the relationship as well as their partner's attentiveness to them that day. Researchers then examined taped footage of the couples attempting to problem-solve situations like surviving a plane crash. Again, they found that those who described themselves as having less power were more negative in finding a solution, while the more authoritative partners were positive, hard-working, and communicative.
"Are Powerful People Immune to Rejection?" originally appeared on Everyday Health.