The power motive as an influence on the evaluation of high and low status persons

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The present study sought to examine the effects of men's power motive on their competence and sociability evaluations of high and low status persons. Subjects rated, via semantic differential scales, two persons whom they had observed (via videotape), working together on several tasks. The relative status of these target persons was manipulated through different introductions to the stimulus tape. The subject's power motive was measured via Winter's (1973, The power motive, New York: Free Press) revised nPower TAT system. Results supported the hypothesis that the effect of men's nPower on the favorability of their evaluations of other people depends upon the target person's status and the evaluative dimension (sociability or competence) employed. More specifically, high nPower men evaluated high status persons as less sociable, and low status persons as less competent, than did men who were not high on nPower. High nPower men tended to evaluate high status persons as more competent than did low nPower men. The status manipulation had a much stronger impact on high nPower men than on men not classified as high on nPower. The latter finding suggests that, in forming their evaluations, high nPower men, like authoritarians, assign great weight to available social labels pertaining to status and prestige and little weight to their own direct impressions of target persons' behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-69
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Psychology


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