The Power Paradox Book Summary - The Power Paradox Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

The Power Paradox summary

Dacher Keltner

How We Gain and Lose Influence

3.6 (138 ratings)
13 mins
Table of Contents

    The Power Paradox
    Summary of 5 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 5

    Power is about changing lives and it plays a key role in everyday relationships and interactions.

    What does it mean to have power? Is it an elusive thing that only belongs to presidents, politicians and celebrities?

    The truth is, power is used by everyday people in ordinary interactions – in motivating an employee to do a good job, for instance, or getting your children to eat their vegetables and do their homework.

    Whenever someone uses influence to make a difference in the world, that’s large-scale power in action.

    The exploits of Thomas Clarkson are a great example of power in action. In 1785, Clarkson was a student at Cambridge University when he won a writing contest with an essay that detailed the horrors of the slave trade. At the time, most European economies relied heavily on the brutal slave trade, and millions were forcibly transported for their labor.

    Clarkson’s prize-winning essay was just the start. He was soon writing more pamphlets and letters on the subject and was convincing many people to boycott the sugar being harvested by slaves in British territories. Eventually, these protests were powerful enough that Great Britain’s Parliament outlawed slavery.

    Clarkson used power to achieve a huge change, but power also exists within relationships and everyday interactions. For example, the power dynamic between two siblings can also change a person’s life.

    During adolescence, an older sibling will often be stronger and smarter, with more education; in short, they have power over their younger sibling. Enjoying this power in early life often pushes older siblings to seek out positions power as they grow older, it also leads them to be generally more traditional and conservative in outlook. On the other hand, younger siblings, who lack this experience of power, will become more cooperative and innovative as adults.

    Because power is so ubiquitous, scientists have long studied how it is used. In one study, known as “leaderless group discussion paradigm” experiment psychologists looked into the power dynamics of everyday life. The experiment involved the observation of a group of strangers who were asked to cooperate on solving a problem without any assigned roles or guidance being offered. Fascinatingly, the researchers found that some participants naturally assumed power by being the first to offer their opinions or by encouraging others.

    Want to see all full key ideas from The Power Paradox?

    Key ideas in The Power Paradox

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Power Paradox about?

    The Power Paradox (2016) draws on a wealth of data from numerous social-science studies over the past 20 years to explore the dynamics of power. Dr. Dacher Keltner gets to the bottom of what power means in everyday life, discusses why so many people lose and abuse their power and explains how it can be used to make the world a better place.

    Best quote from The Power Paradox

    Stay focused on other people. Prioritize others interests as much as your own… take delight in the delights of others, as they make a difference in the world.

    —Dacher Keltner
    example alt text

    Who should read The Power Paradox?

    • Readers interested in power dynamics
    • Employees who want more influence in their company
    • Executives who want to protect their power

    About the Author

    Dacher Keltner is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Over the course of his career, he has published over 190 articles in publications such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He is also the author of multiple best-selling books, including Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life and The Compassionate Instinct.

    Categories with The Power Paradox

    Books like The Power Paradox

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    27 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial