Power and Ambition

Do You Want to Be Feared or Loved?
  • Anna Rowley


Imagine. You are sitting in a well-appointed research laboratory in front of a piece of equipment called a shock generator. You have volunteered for an experiment on memory and learning at prestigious Yale University. You and a fellow volunteer draw straws. You will play the role of the teacher, and the other participant will be the learner. You watch as the learner is strapped into a chair, which is linked to the shock generator located in another room by two cuffs affixed to his arms. The research scientist in charge of the experiment tells you both, “Although the shocks can be painful, they cause no permanent damage.”2 You are led to the room where the shock generator sits and are instructed to sit down and await further instructions. You cannot see the learner, but you can communicate with one another via an intercom device. You notice that the front panel of the generator has a number of switches labeled from left to right, “mild shock” to “intense shock” all the way to “xxx.” You are given a list of questions to ask your partner, the learner. Should he get an answer wrong you are to administer a shock by depressing one of the levers on the front of the generator. Should the learner make another mistake you are to give a more severe shock. You learn that the shocks range from a mild but painful 15 volts to a potentially fatal 450 volts.


Leadership Team Power Grid Shock Generator Soft Power Role Power 
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© Anna Rowley 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Rowley

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