Annotation of a Qualitative Research Article

Annotate the quantitative research article: “Why Power Decreases Happiness in a Collectivist Context?
A Qualitative Study”Write three paragraph annotation that includes:1. A summary2. An analysis3. An application as illustrated in this example
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Curr Psychol (2017) 36:14–21
DOI 10.1007/s12144-015-9380-4
Why Power Decreases Happiness in a Collectivist Context?
A Qualitative Study
Jesus Alfonso D. Datu 1 & Jose Alberto S. Reyes 2
Published online: 30 September 2015
# Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015
Abstract In the Western settings, power positively predicted
happiness (e.g., Kifer et al. 2013). Though, this result may not
be generalized across cultures as cultural psychologists recognized that interdependence is more important in collectivist
cultures. Consistent with this conjecture, Datu and Reyes
(2014) assessed the relations among power, relations, and
happiness in the Philippine setting which revealed that power
negatively predicted happiness. However, not much is known
on why power could potentially reduce happiness in collectivist cultures. Thus, the current investigation employed qualitative research to offer in-depth explanations on why power
may be associated with lower happiness in a collectivist setting. Findings revealed three major themes that characterized
reasons on why power may decrease happiness in an interdependent context: a.) Power impairs relationship; b.) Power
evokes negative judgments from others; and c.) Power comes
with a great responsibility. The theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed.
Keywords Filipino college students . Happiness . Power
The manuscript is based on the Master’s degree thesis of the author. Some
portions of the results were already reported elsewhere (Datu 2014b).
* Jesus Alfonso D. Datu
jess.datu@yahoo.com
1
Division of Learning, Development, and Diversity, Faculty of
Education, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
2
Counseling and Educational Psychology Department, De La Salle
University, Manila, Philippines
Introduction
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
(Francois-Marie Arouet)
The aforementioned quote is indeed one of the most popular quotes shared in the Marvel movie Spiderman. This simply means that it may not be always helpful to acquire and
exercise power since power equates with more duties and
obligations. Perhaps, this explains why some people are not
interested to become powerful. Despite this caveat, some individuals still aspire to obtain power given that the powerful
commonly gets higher social positions (i.e. politicians and
school administrators) in various contexts (Chen and Tyler
2001). Also, powerful individuals have greater control in their
lives. These contradictory scenarios appear to highlight the
role of power as a fundamental force in social relationships
(Fiske 1993).
The extant literature has conceptualized power as control
on important resources across distinct situations (Kifer et al.
2013; Anderson et al. 2012; Magee and Galinsky 2008). Powerful individuals enjoy greater access to tangible (i.e. monetary incentives and physical facilities) and non-tangible resources (e.g. decisions in an organization) compared to powerless ones in school, work, and other relevant locale (Anderson et al. 2012). That said, it is no longer surprising that power
was positively associated with optimal psychological outcomes such as life satisfaction (Kifer et al. 2013), positive
affect (Adler et al. 2000; Kifer et al. 2013), and self-esteem
(Adler et al. 2000). Kifer et al. (2013) even found that power
increases happiness due to its ability to enhance authenticity
or the extent to which individuals do actions that represent
their dispositions and wants (Wood et al. 2008). Authenticity,
Curr Psychol (2017) 36:14–21
in turn, positively predicted happiness. However, it is possible
that these findings may not generalize in collectivist contexts.
As people in individualist contexts are culturally expected to
maintain independent expression of personal dispositions,
emotions, and values to achieve greater happiness (Markus
and Kitayama 1991; Uchida and Ogihara 2012) and power
enhances tendencies to behave in ways that correspond to
one’s aspirations and feelings, it is plausible that power can
exert beneficial impact on happiness.
Given that there are context-sensitive predictors of happiness across cultures (Markus and Kitayama 1991; Uchida and
Ogihara 2012), it may not be safe to assume that power can
lead to happiness with the distinct cultural task (e.g. relationship harmony) of individuals in an interdependent society. It is
even likely that power may be associated with lower levels of
happiness in collectivist settings as past studies have shown
that power diminishes sensitivity to social and contextual information (Galinsky et al. 2008; Keltner et al. 2003) which is
important to successfully adjust and fit in the environment.
To address these empirical gaps regarding how power influence happiness in collectivist cultures, Datu and Reyes
(2014) investigated the association among power, authenticity, and happiness in the Philippine setting. They found that
power negatively predicted happiness while authenticity mediated such relations. However, given that the said study was
quantitative in nature which showed relations among power,
authenticity, and happiness, the authors also asserted that there
is a necessity to further explore possible reasons on why power was negatively associated with happiness through carrying
out qualitative research approaches. Hence, the present study
utilized a qualitative research design to provide in-depth explanations on the negative relations between power and happiness in the Philippines which is considered a collectivist
context (Church et al. 2012; Datu 2014a).
15
expression of their dispositional attributes and preferences.
In contrast, those in collectivist societies who are likely to
display interdependent self-construal prioritizes fitting in with
others’ wants and values to maintain relationship harmony.
With the distinctions in the cultural tasks of people in individualist and collectivist cultures, foregoing literature revealed
that there are culture-sensitive predictors of happiness (Uchida
and Ogihara 2012; Uchida et al. 2004). If this is the case, then
the inference that all individuals, regardless of cultural orientations, would benefit from exercising power or control on
other people, relationships, and situations may not be generalizable to collectivist societies. Since powerful people are
prone to engage in actions that reflect their personal wants,
feelings, and values, it could potentially disrupt relationship
harmony among people in collectivist societies which may
reduce happiness.
Although there were several studies that assessed the effects of power on various well-being indices, it should be
noted that these researches were carried out in the Western
context except for the study of Datu and Reyes (2014) which
assessed the predictive impact of power on happiness in a
collectivist setting. Therefore, the current research contributes
to the extant literature on the psychological impact of power
given that previous empirical investigations relied on correlational (e.g., Datu 2014a; Kifer et al. 2013) and experimental
designs (Kifer et al. 2013) to assess the role of power across
cultures. To our knowledge, no qualitative study was carried
out yet to examine why power affects happiness in various
cultural settings like the Philippines which is considered a
collectivist culture (e.g. Church et al. 2012; Datu 2014a).
Investigating the potential reasons that underpin the negative association between power and happiness through qualitative research design is also beneficial in that it would lead to
better understanding on how and why power may undermine
happiness based on the unique experiences of individuals embedded in an interdependent setting.
Theoretical Perspective
Whereas the extant literature proposes that power is highly
beneficial as it leads to greater happiness as it enhances authenticity (Neff and Suizzo 2006; Kifer et al. 2013) and authenticity was linked to higher happiness (Kifer et al. 2013;
Wood et al. 2008), it is probable that these patterns of relationship may only be applicable to people in individualist cultures.
It is likely that the cultural distinctions in the self-view provide
a sensible reason why power may not always lead to SWB in
collectivist societies.
A major contention in the self-construal theory (Markus
and Kitayama 1991) is that the views that individuals hold
about their selves elucidate cultural differences in cognition,
emotion, and motivation. Individuals in the Western context
who are likely to endorse an independent self-construal focus
on actions that maintain the autonomous and independent
Methods
Research Design
The current study utilized qualitative research approach to
provide in-depth exploration on how power was associated
with happiness among Filipino undergraduate students
through a multiple case study research design (Yin 2003). This
approach is very relevant since this type of case study requires
examination of data from multiple sources and multilevel analytical procedures (i.e. formulation of within and cross-case
themes). Therefore, the overarching research objective was to
further understand and elaborate why power negatively predicted happiness in a collectivist context.
16
Participants
The participants were recruited from the sample in the
quantitative study of Datu and Reyes (2014). Three participants who got high (i.e. belong to the 90th percentile; ) and two participants who got low (i.e. belong to
the 10th percentile) scores in terms of the composite
score on the Sense of Power Scale (Anderson et al.
2012) were purposively selected through extreme case
sampling since power was utilized as the unit of analysis. Patton (2001) asserted that this sampling technique
is most helpful when the researcher would like to collect greatest information depending on the research
problem. The participants’ ages ranged from 19 to 21
(Mage =19.4;SDage = 0.80). There were 4 female and 1
male participants in the current research.
Prior to the execution of individual interviews among
the prospective participants, a pilot interview was done
to one Filipino undergraduate student to ensure that
questions can be answered by the target participants.
Before carrying out each interview session, the participants were asked to read and sign the consent forms.
The average duration of the interview sessions was
48 min.
The final participants are five Filipino undergraduate
students with diverse background in terms of possessing
power. Two participants (Rain and Ace) experienced
serving as leaders in various student organizations in
the college. There were two participants (Ian and Lays)
whose practical experience in handling power revolved
around holding leadership positions in student organizations during their secondary school education. Then, the
remaining participant’s (Ian) experiences in having power involved serving as a team leader in academic task
groups.
Instrument
Interview Guide Protocol
The initial overarching questions were further explored
through developing an interview protocol. The protocol
was constructed as a way to provide more contextual
explanations on the results of Datu and Reyes (2014)
regarding as to why power was linked to lower levels
of happiness among Filipino undergraduate students.
The interview guide question was shared to the second
author for further refinements. In general, the interview
questions aimed to offer specific explanations about the
maladaptive consequences of power on happiness in a
collectivist context. Sample interview questions include:
“Can you share a past experience wherein being powerful did not lead to happiness?”, and “Based on that
Curr Psychol (2017) 36:14–21
personal experience, why did being powerful make
you unhappy?”. Prior to the actual data collection, the
interview protocol was pilot tested to one participant.
The participants’ responses in the pilot interview were
used as one of the bases in revising the interview
protocol.
Researcher-as-Instrument
The primary researcher also served as an important instrument
in the research process. Presently, he is a PhD in Educational
Psychology scholar from the Division of Learning, Development, and Diversity, Faculty of Education at the University of
Hong Kong. His conceptions on the consequences of power
revolved around his actual experiences in supervising research
assistants, mentoring undergraduate Psychology students as a
former lecturer, and working with senior research faculty,
teaching faculty, and academic administrators.
Data Analysis
The researcher adopted a constructivist epistemological stance
in the current study. This epistemological position involves
seeing knowledge as constructed and not explored (Crotty
1998). Constructivism also posits that individuals/
participants derive meaning towards identical phenomena in
peculiar ways. Several analytic strategies were used to construct the themes that could elucidate why power may not
always lead to happiness in a collectivist context. Consistent
with the recommendations of Creswell (2003) in analyzing
qualitative data, the following procedures were executed: a.)
organization and preparation of qualitative data (e.g. transcribing the interviews, making memo notes, and etc.); b.)
reading of transcripts; c.) coding (labelling portions of each
interview transcript that are relevant to our research questions); d.) formulation of categories and themes (i.e. clustering together relevant codes to form themes in each participant
or within-case analysis); e.) representation of formulated categories and themes (i.e. tables presenting cross-case themes);
and f.) extracting the meaning of the analyzed data.
However, two levels of analyses were performed to
produce themes that represent the participants’ perceptions on why power may be negatively related with
happiness: within-case and cross-case analyses. Several
techniques were also used to ensure trustworthiness of
the findings in the qualitative phase such as reviewing
memo notes, member checking, peer debriefing, and inquiry auditing (Morrow 2007). In terms of member
checking, two participants were interviewed again to
assess whether the cross-case themes about the disadvantageous side of power were consistent with what
they have shared during the initial interviews. The peer
debriefer of the current study is a Master of Science in
Curr Psychol (2017) 36:14–21
17
Developmental Psychology student who had some exposure to research through graduate degree subjects. The
peer debriefer provided comments whether or not the
codes and themes represent important parts of the interview transcript from each participant. On the other
hand, the inquiry auditor was a Doctor of Philosophy
in Education graduate who specialized in qualitative research methodologies. The auditor ensured that the data
collection and analytic procedures were consistent with
the rigors of executing a multiple case study research
design and the codes, categories, and themes emerged
from the actual interview transcripts of the participants.
Results
The section presents the themes that characterized the
key reasons on why power may be negatively linked
to happiness in a collectivist context. From the themes
that emerged in each individual interview with the participants (within-case themes), three themes were formed
to offer stronger explanations regarding the maladaptive
role of power on happiness (cross-case themes; See
Table 1).
Power Impairs Relationships
Possession of power may result in relational problems
with significant others. To a large extent, this is because
using power to make certain decisions could lead to
conflict with other members in an organization,
Table 1
classmates, and friends. In relation to this, Marian
shared that when she served as the secretary of the
student council during her high school education, she
cited a particular instance where expression of power
initiated a conflict. While a meeting is being facilitated
to finalize the projects that they are supposed to plan
and implement, the president keeps on rejecting the proposals of other officers. She stated:
“Whenever we suggest possible projects that could help
our fellow students, he always contradicts it…”
Her belief on the negative impact of power in the
relational aspect of one’s life stems from her actual
experiences of possessing control on certain resources.
In particular, this took place when she served as the
leader in one of the academic projects that she had last
semester. Given that she usually controls most of the
tasks that will be assigned to her group members who
happened to be her friends she observed some negative
changes on her quality of relationship with them. This
was very evident when she said:
“Yes, my relationship with friends changed during those
times (where I served as the project leader)…Because
before, we are good (friends)…. As time passes by, especially when we started working on our papers, my
behaviors started to change…. So it seems like my relationship with my friends changed in a way that we are
no longer open to one another…Our bonding moments
were minimized…Consequently, when we are in the
Perceived reasons on the negative impact of power on happiness
Cross-case themes
Within-case themes
Ian
Marian
Lays
Rain
Ace
Power impairs
relationships
Decreases social
interaction
Conflict with
classmates
Conflict with teacher
Conflict with subordinates
Reduces social interaction
Negative changes on the
quality of relationship
with friends
Creates family
conflict
Family is more
important than
power
Power evokes
negative judgment
from others
Afraid of criticism
from others
Criticism from others
Negative changes in
other people’s
perceptions
Fulfillment of duties
and responsibilities
Negative perceptions from
others
Criticism from
others
Increases
negative issues
Increases rivalry among
co-officers
Relational problems with
significant others
Conflict between
responsibility and
maintaining relationships
Reduces social network
Criticism from others
Uncomfortable with more
competent subordinates
Shaped by the
evaluation of
other people
Fulfillment of others’
expectations
Increases responsibility
Neglects other
aspects of life
Increases
responsibility
Increases responsibility
Requires one to compromise
or adjust
Requires to think more of the
subordinates
Increases
responsibility
Fulfillment of
others’
expectations
Power comes with a
great responsibility
18
Curr Psychol (2017) 36:14–21
classroom, we are no longer like before, wherein we are
very happy every time that we meet because it
was affected by the fact that I always want to
dominate the group…”
not in good terms with his or her family, so it will definitely affect it (happiness)…”
Power Evokes Negative Judgement from Others
She also realized that because of her role as a leader
in the group, she became insensitive of her friends’
needs. She mentioned that this could potentially explain
why her friends eventually became distant and aloof to
her.
Similarly, Ian, another participant had conflicts with her
classmates when she was assigned by her classroom adviser
to serve as a classroom officer wherein her primary task would
revolve around listing down the names of students who are
noisy in the class. She said:
“Because every time that I accomplish the tasks that are
assigned to me by my teacher, my classmates are usually
upset with me…”
While Ian’s role as an officer may have caused her to
feel unhappy, it is likely that this negative emotional
state was driven by the fact that carrying out the required task resulted to corresponding punishment for
her classmates who violated the class rules. This scenario essentially differs from Marian’s case whose powerladen action may not directly incur concrete debilitating
effects on the lives of the students under her leadership.
Rain shared some reasons as to …
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