Need for Power - Deepstash
Need for Power

Need for Power



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Need for Power Definition

Need for Power Definition defined as the desire to control or influence others.

It is not necessarily associated with actually having power, but instead with the desire to have power.

David Winter refined the definition: need for power (also called power motivation) was seen as one of the three fundamental social motives, along with need for achievement and need for affiliation.

Need for power is considered to be an unconscious motivation.


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Behaviors Associated with Need for Power

Behaviors Associated with Need for Power

  • the use of physical or psychological aggression to force others to comply with what one wants from them
  • to express the need for power through gaining a reputation as an important person
  • high power motivation trying to affect the emotions of others (telling jokes, or by a musical or dramatic performance)
  • providing (often unsolicited) advice or help. 
  • having a high level of physical fights or verbal arguments with others 
  • gaining a reputation is another expression of power motivation
  • taking a guiding role within their close relationships


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People may display their need for power by making sure their names are visible on their doors, writing letters that will be published, with their names identified, or doing other things that stand out and lead to other people knowing who they are.

These prestige possessions might be particular types of clothing, or music, or any other objects that will impress others.

When asked to remember members of a group at a later point, those high in power motivation are more often remembered than are those low in power motivation.


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The guiding role - dominance in the relationship

The guiding role - dominance in the relationship

Those high in need for power may also express this by taking a guiding role within their close relationships.

They like to give advice to their friends and to propose and plan joint activities.

These types of behaviours result in the high-need-for-power individual being more dominant in the relationship.

When two people who are both high in power motivation do form a relationship, they may alternate in taking the dominant role within the relationship.


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The Need for Power predicts job choice and performance

The Need for Power predicts job choice and performance

People who are successful managers within large corporations have been found to be high in need for power.

Those working in government positions, where one is providing some type of service, or enforcing regulations, have also been found to be high in power motivation.

Being a journalist is another power-related occupation, possibly because of the link with gaining reputation.

The set of occupations known as the helping professions are associated with high power motivation. 


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Aggressive forms of power expression

Aggressive forms of power expression

More aggressive forms of power expression are more common in younger adults, whereas parenting and helping others may be seen more in older adults.

Social role expectations affect power motivation expression as well. In general, men are more able to express power through aggression and leadership in large organisations.

Women often express power in close relationships or the family.


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Present… here… now


Need for power is considered to be an unconscious motivation. People are not necessarily aware of their own level of need for power. In fact, openly admitting a desire to have power or influence is not considered socially acceptable, and many would deny having a high need for power.


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