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Higher Rank, More Power = Less Stress

September 28, 2012 by  

STANFORD, Calif. (UPI) — Conventional wisdom says government and corporate leaders have high levels of stress, but U.S. researchers say more authority means less stress.

Professor James Gross of Stanford University and Jennifer Lerner, a professor of public policy and management at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, suggested leadership positions were associated with lower levels of stress.

In other words, the feeling of being in charge of one’s own life more than makes up for the greater amount of responsibility that accompanies higher rungs on the leadership ladder, the researchers said.

“We live as social beings in a stratified society,” Gross said in a statement. “It’s our relative status in a group that disproportionately influences our happiness and well-being.”

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also found the connection between power and tranquility was dependent on the total number of subordinates a leader had and on the degree of authority or autonomy a job conferred, the researchers said.

The researchers said they were unable to say whether leadership leads to low stress levels, or whether people who are predisposed to feel little stress are more likely to be leaders.

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