The key defining element of the power motive is one person having an impact on the behavior or emotions of another, or being concerned about prestige and reputation. This basic imagery is often elaborated with anticipations, actions designed to have impact, prestige, pleasure at reaching the goal, and so forth. The measure is implicit, tapping a motivation system based on emotional experience rather than conscious verbal processing, which is affected by language, defenses, and rationalizations. Thus, the content analysis measure of the power motive is usually uncorrelated with direct questionnaire measures—that is, what people believe or consciously report about their need for power.

A power motive should be distinguished from other power-related psychological concepts. For example, power motive is not related to power styles or traits ...

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