The dominance, prestige, and leadership account of social power motives

Felix Suessenbach, Steve Loughnan, Felix D. Schönbrodt, Adam B. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The power motive predicts influential social behaviour; however, its heterogeneous conceptualisations have produced inconsistent results. To overcome this problem, we developed and validated a unitary taxonomy of social power motives based on established delineations of social hierarchies: the dominance, prestige, and leadership account. While we could measure these motives both reliably and distinctively (study 1), we also showed they strongly related to a common power desire (study 2). Assessing their nomological networks (studies 3 and 4), we demonstrated distinct associations between the dominance motive (D: wanting to coerce others into adhering to one's will) and anger and verbal aggression; the prestige motive (P: wanting to obtain admiration and respect) and the fear of losing reputation and claiming to have higher moral concerns; the leadership motive (L: wanting to take responsibility in and for one's group) and emotional stability and helping behaviour. Furthermore, while D uniquely predicted agonistic/retaliatory behaviour in dictator games (study 5), L uniquely predicted the attainment of higher employment ranks in various professions (study 7). Finally, at least to some degree, P and L related positively, and D negatively to prosocial donating behaviour (study 6). This taxonomy represents a novel and powerful approach to predicting influential social behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-33
Number of pages26
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number1
Early online date7 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • words
  • dominance
  • prestige
  • leadershoip
  • social hierarchies
  • power motive


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