When does power trigger approach motivation? Threats and the role of perceived control in the power domain

Mianlin Deng, Mufan Zheng, Ana Guinote

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

It is widely believed that power activates the behavioral approach system (Guinote, ; Keltner, Gruenfeld, & Anderson, ); however, findings are inconsistent. Here we discuss evidence suggesting that perceived threats to control in the power domain are key determinants of the association between power and approach motivation. We propose that objective or subjective threats to the exercise of power trigger behavioral inhibition, conflicts between approach and behavioral inhibition, and reactive, negatively valenced approach motivation. Furthermore, threatened power holders reassert power-in particular by using coercion-as defense against threat. We discuss literature in support of these hypotheses involving external threats (e.g., instability, illegitimacy, and uncertainty) and subjective states (anxiety, motivation to maintain power, perceived incompetence, submissiveness, and perceptions of low power) that trigger the perception of lack of control in the power domain and undermine the positive tone of power holders' approach motivation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12390
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Volume12
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2018

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