Power effects on instrumental learning: Evidence from the brain and behavior.

We investigated whether high power facilitates instrumental learning relative to low power—an effect that would support power effects on goal-pursuit and decision-making. Because power is known to increase instrumentality in action, we expected that high power would enhance instrumental learning involving both approach and avoidance responses, relative to low power. Studies 1 and 2 revealed that manipulated power modulated instrumental learning, such that relative to low power, high power facilitated the learning of approach and avoidance responses through reinforcement. Furthermore, Study 2 revealed stronger neural processing of valid versus invalid feedback, indexed by the feedback-related negativity (FRN) component of the event-related potential (ERP), among high-power participants, but not low-power or control participants. These results suggest higher power engaged more strategic processing of goal-relevant feedback—a finding that illuminates the links between power, goal pursuit, and social behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)