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Mindful : February 2017
BOOKS BY DACHER KELTNER the extent to which their own personalities are defined by five social tendencies, five general ways of acting in the world, known as the Big Five: enthusiasm, kindness, focus, calmness, and openness (See Sidebar, opposite page). I returned four months later, and then again at the nine-month point, to ask participants to report on their fellow dorm members’ power. For each person in the dorm, I tallied up all the other dorm members’ ratings of his or her power at the start, middle, and end of the academic year. I found that power flowed quickly to cer- tain individuals: by two weeks into the school year, some students already had more power than others. And I found flux: every student’s level of power in his or her peers’ eyes fluctuated over the year. What Groups Value in Others Who rose to power? Who did the groups give power to and construct more favorable reputa- tions of? We have a deep cultural intuition that nice guys finish last, that one must step on oth- ers to rise in the ranks, and that acquiring power requires the cold-blooded dispensing of rivals and even allies. But nothing could have been further from the truth. In my experiment, the strongest predictor of which dorm dwellers rose to the top within the first week of arriving at college, and which ones remained there through the year, was enthusiasm. The other four elements in the Big Five mat- tered as well: kindness, focus, calmness, and openness also related to students’ power. I went on to replicate these findings in a Vanderbilt sorority, in a Wisconsin fraternity, in Berke- ley dorms, and even in a summer basketball camp. But studies that rely solely on US college students are limited in profound ways. Young adults, typically from middle- or upper-class backgrounds, enjoying the freedom of college and the privileges of an advanced education, are a thin slice of humanity, and data coming from them may not say much about the world outside the ivory tower. → THE COMPASSIONATE INSTINCT The Science of Human Goodness By Dacher Keltner, Jason Marsh, and Jeremy Adam Smith • 2017 THE POWER PARADOX How We Gain and Lose Influence By Dacher Keltner • 2016 UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONS, 3RD EDITION By Dacher Keltner, Keith Oatley, and Jennifer M. Jenkins • 2014 BORN TO BE GOOD The Science of a Meaningful Life By Dacher Keltner • 2009 Groups give us power when we are enthusiastic, speak up, make bold assertions, and express interest in others. 54 mindful February 2017 emotions