When the stakes are high, people in positions of low power may perform better by using self-affirmations to boost their confidence, the findings showed."You should reflect on things that you know are good about yourself," said lead researcher Sonia Kang, assistant professor of organisational behaviour and human resource management at University of Toronto.

The findings suggest that writing or thinking about one's family or other positive traits that are not associated with the high-stakes situation also may boost confidence and performance.The researchers conducted three experiments to measure performance in pressure-filled situations.

Self-affirmations, however, helped to level the playing field and effectively reduced the power differences.In one of the experiments, 88 MBA students were paired together as the buyer or seller of a biotechnology plant. All participants were told the exercise would gauge their negotiating skills to raise the stakes.

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