Previous evidence demonstrates that power is mentally represented as vertical space by adults. However, little is known about how power is mentally represented in children. The current research examines such representations. The influence of vertical information (motor cues) was tested in both an explicit power evaluation task (judge whether labels refer to powerless or powerful groups) and an incidental task (judge whether labels refer to people or animals). The results showed that when power was explicitly evaluated, vertical motor responses interfered with responding in children and adults, i.e., they responded to words representing powerful groups faster with the up than the down cursor key (and vice versa for powerless groups). However, this interference effect disappeared in the incidental task in children. The findings suggest that children have developed a spatial representation of power before they have been taught power–space associations formally, but that they do not judge power spontaneously.
This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Cognitive Processing. The final authenticated version is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10339-017-0814-9