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SITE : “The Basics of Power(includes several studies)



POWER (P) is fundamental to human social life
The study of Influence & Power is likely as old as human history. “To a greater degree than most of us realize, we are the products of power,”  Toffler (1990).
Success, defeat & conflict have given rise to the desire & search for it. Some psychoanalysts call this normal, saying that power can actually build a person’s identity, under certain circumstances. (Zalesnik 1989)
Others doctors believe that power-seeking is not conducive to psychological development. This can be shown in Eve’s greed for illegal knowledge & power, which made her vulnerable to the  manipulation of the powerful & devious Nāḥāš (Hebrew for ‘snake’), leading to the downfall of all humanity. (Genesis 3)

GENERAL : The human Power Motive is the desire of one person to have an impact on the behavior or emotions of another individual or group, &/or being concerned about one’s own prestige & reputation. This broad definition includes a whole family of overlapping concepts :  ✦ authority, aggression, coercion, control, dominance, influence, inspiration, leadership & nurturance – combined into the “need for power” = nPow

nPow is different from other power-related psychological concepts. It is not :
✦ Beliefs about P (Authoritarian, Machiavellian)
✦ having the Skills to get or use P (rules, maneuvers)
✦ natural Traits (dominance or surgency ….)
✦ occupying P Positions (teacher, CEO, minister)
✦ P Styles (5 -10 categories)
✦ Sense of having P (locus of control, reinforcement)

nPow is an inborn basic component of one’s personality, & some people have a greater need or capacity for it than others. Research suggests nPow is embedded in certain physical processes, hormones, & mechanisms.
Power-driven people show greater sympathetic nervous system arousal when under stress & threat (reactiveness).

Without proper self-care & the ability to self-regulate (powerlessness), constant triggering can lead to lowered immune system efficiency, potentially causing frequent infectious or auto-immune diseases. Over-reactivity is also related to cardiovascular problems  & higher blood pressure.

In David McClelland’s book “The Achieving Society”, nPow explains some people’s push to always be in charge.
But he also identifies 2 other main psychological motives :
👥 nAffil = Affiliation – a person’s need to feel a sense of involvement & belonging within a social group, &
✍️ nAch = the “need for achievement”, higher in people who have an internal locus of control & so are more in charge of their actions. (MORE…..)

Each of us has these 3 in some proportion, but with a stronger preference for one.
McClelland lists 2 kinds of nPow (business, politics, church….) :
🔻SOCIAL – (for control) the ability to exert dominance, influence or control over the actions of others. These people only function for their own benefit, to prevent everyone else from achieving their P.
🔺PERSONAL (for connection) – being in charge of one’s own states & behaviors. These people don’t chase approval or recognition, rather wanting agreement & compliance. The desire is to achieve goals for the greater good, through positive or negative sanctions.

nPow can be seen in career choices –  modified by social class, responsibility, or extraversion – in all 4 PMES categories :
Physical : Coaches, Trainers // Mental : Teachers / Professors, Politicos // Emotional : Psychologists, Therapists // Spiritual : Religious ministers, healers….

Compared to people with high nAffil or nAch, those with high nPow scores prefer to go after & hold a position where they run everything (people-places-things). And if their “responsibility quotient” is low, they’ll be more argumentative, take big risks & engage in conspicuous consumption. At work they’re pushier in group discussions, & get very frustrated when not in charge of everything.

SIDE NOTE: nPow & nAch are often related – the greater the power motive, the greater the need for achievement. And this combination does not have to be immediately visible. Since P is about influence, it can be achieved indirectly.
EXP: ▪︎ Privately expending a great deal of time & effort writing one or more books – which become widely read & having a great effect by being helpful
▪︎ Working for years quietly creating a new invention, medicine, or other product to broad benefit (influence)….

IMP: The fear of expressing Personal Power in one’s life because of emotional / psychological wounding does not indicate the strength of a person’s native nPow, only the limitation of its use & full expression.

NEXT: ACoA Powerlessness, #1

2 thoughts on “The Human POWER MOTIVE

  1. Donna thank you for this incredible insight ,it leaves me struggling to read it because it’s like a wave of reality I have never dealt with …my question is there a audio recording of this blog ?
    To be able to listen to the words and not zone out and tail spin ..
    Thank you ..


    • No audio. Please read it one section at a time, make a few notes & then leave it. Go on the next day or next week & continue – until you can retain the info.


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