Role-Taking and Power in Social Psychology


Sociology, Psychology, role-taking, family, power


It is theorized that when structural control resources are not available, persons will tend to use role-taking as a "management" strategy. Thus role-taking ability is at a premium when the subordinate attempts to balance the structurally based power of a superordinate by increasing the latter's ego gratification in the relationship. Role-taking and power are seen as distinct strategies by which persons achieve control of others. Drawing from a sample of 888 subjects from 222 family units, questionnaire data are analyzed to test the hypothesis that role-taking accuracy will be inversely related to power inside the family. Using position in the nuclear family as an index of power, it was found that fathers were less accurate role-takers than mothers and mothers less accurate than children. Data were also analyzed using children's perceptions of their parents' power and the wife's perceptions of conjugal decision-making as measures of power. Partial support for the hypothesis was found in that dominant wives were poorer role-takers than wives with less decision-making power (autonomic). Research is suggested to test the proposition that role-taking ability may be a function of the person's position on a situationally given role-set rather than a static personality trait.

Original Publication Citation

"Role-Taking and Power in Social Psychology," American Sociological Review 37 (October):615-614 (with D. Franks and J. Calonico).

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


American Sociological Review




Religious Education



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor