Journal of Research in Personality 42 (2008) 1547–1559
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Journal of Research in Personality
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jrp
How personalized and socialized power motivation facilitate antisocial and prosocial decision-making Joe C. Magee a,*, Carrie A. Langner b a Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University, 295 Lafayette Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10012, USA b Department of Psychology and Child Development, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, USA
Article history: Available online 30 July 2008
Keywords: Power motive Motivation Decision-making Prosocial Antisocial Deliberation Motives Striving Needs Desires
In two studies, we investigate the effects of individuals’ power motivation on decision-making. We distinguish between two types of power motivation [McClelland, D. C. (1970). The two faces of power. Journal of International Affairs, 24, 29–47; Winter, D. G. (1973). The power motive. New York: The Free Press] and demonstrate that both types of power motivation facilitate influential decision-making but that each type plays a different role in different contexts. In a conflict context (Study 1), individuals’ personalized (self-serving) power motivation was associated with antisocial decisions, and in a healthcare context (Study 2), individuals socialized (other-serving) power motivation was associated with prosocial decisions. Furthermore, the type of power motivation elicited in each con-text was associated with less perceived need to deliberate over the relevant policy decision. In separating out the independent effects of each type of power motivation, we are able to explain more variance in decision-making behavior across various contexts than in models using aggregate power motivation (personalized plus socialized). © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Individuals vary in the extent to which they desire to influence others and gain social status. This need for power, or power motivation, can only be satisfied when one is able to make decisions or take actions that affect others’ lives (McClelland, 1975; Winter, 1973; Winter, 1992), and only some situations present opportunities to have this kind of impact. People in policy-making positions—political leaders and their advisors—have such opportunities all the time, and their power motivation is an important predictor of a wide range of behavior and accomplishments while in office (Ferguson & Barth, 2002; Hermann, 1980; Winter, 2002, 2005). Political leaders’ power motivation has been connected not only to mil-itary aggression and unilateral policy-making (Hermann, 1980; Winter, 2002) but also to positive impressions of their ser-vice and significant achievements (Ferguson & Barth, 2002; Winter, 1987). The literature on ordinary individuals parallels these assessments of political leaders: power motivation has been linked, on the one hand, to a number of depraved behav-iors (Winter, 1973, 2000) and, on the other hand, to self-selecting into helping professions (Winter & Stewart, 1978). Despite these disparate findings, little is known about the role that power motivation plays in the decision-making processes that lead to these varied outcomes. We address this gap in the literature first by noting an important distinction that has been neglected in recent research on power motivation (but see Harms, Roberts, & Wood, 2007). We note that the motivation for power can be conceptualized as two separable desires corresponding to distinct kinds of influence: a desire to influence for self-serving and even antisocial
- Corresponding author. E-mail address: [email protected] (J.C. Magee).
0092-6566/$ – see front matter © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2008.07.009
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