Theories of Power

Why do people want power, and what happens when they get it? In 2021, I'm working on two major theory papers that lay out key dynamics in the pursuit and experience of power.

By Jen Overbeck in power theory writing

July 24, 2021

Power Motivation Theory

People can pursue power for the pleasures it can provide–that is, for hedonic reasons–or for its contribution to achieving important aims–that is, for eudaimonic reasons. These different motives lead to distinct expectations that in turn affect how the power holder experiences power. Over time, the hedonic power holder experiences declining satisfaction, leading to an addiction-like cycle of pursuing more power. The eudaimonic power holder, over time, comes to enjoy the unexpected benefits of power.

Two Factor Theory of Power

In this paper, we work to disentangle conflicting definitions, and findings about the effects, of power. We show how the ability to induce changes in other people can stem from two key sources: 1) asymmetric control of valued resources; and 2) volitional influence, or the ability to induce willing change. Power holders are aware of other people’s expectation that they not only coerce others, but also induce willing change–that is, they need to have both resource control and volitional influence. When they have both, they can exercise associative power, or power with others. When they lack volitional influence, they are limited to dissociative power, or power against others.

Posted on:
July 24, 2021
1 minute read, 190 words
power theory writing
power hedonic-eudaimonic associative_dissociative
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