The “E"s have it

By Jason Marsh | May 27, 2008 | 0 comments

Last week's issue of The New Yorker features one of the more humorous attempts to put research into practice. Staff writer Lauren Collins decided to replicate the great "E" experiment that researchers Joe Magee and Adam Galinsky ran for their 2006 study, "Power and Perspectives Not Taken," on which Robert Sutton reported in Greater Good's Winter 2007-08 issue.

Collins asked some attendees at Time magazine's Time 100 banquet–a fete for the "100 Most Influential People in the World"–to write the letter "E" on their forehead. Per Magee and Galinsky's study, Collins assumed that writing the "E" so it was legible to other people would indicate that the letter writer was skilled at taking other people's perspectives; if they wrote the "E" so it was legible only to themselves, backwards to others, that would suggest they were "self-oriented"–a trait common to powerful people.

The participants in Collins's informal study included Paul Wolfowitz, Liz Smith, NYC police commissioner Ray Kelly, and Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs. To see what she found, you can read her piece online. For more on the psychology of power, you can read Sutton's full article or other contributions to our recent issue on the subject.

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About The Author

Jason Marsh is the editor in chief of Greater Good.


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