Monkey on my Shoulder

Humans have more in common with other animals than you might think.

Men like power more than they admit

Ask managers and CEO's whether they are interested in power, and they will deny it. They like "responsibility," or they like to share their "leadership qualities" with the organization, but power, no that's not what they are going for. They know other men, of course, whom they call power-hungry, but they themselves have nobler motives. Read More

Welcome!

As a long time fan of your work, it's great news to see that you'll be blogging here at Psychology Today. I look forward to your posts.

As to this one, I wonder if you aren't generalizing a bit too much. After all, your examples are very self-selected (CEOs, bosses, Nixon). Aren't there plenty of men (and male chimps, baboons, bonobos) that really aren't all that interested in seeking power? Do other primates have their version of the slacker who is content playing computer games and watching Star Trek re-runs in his parents' basement for the rest of his life?

In any case, may you live long and prosper!

Ironic...

...that the blogger seems to be complaining that he doesn't have sufficient power to make others see the world as he sees it. At least that's the way it comes across.

I'm not sure what there is to "admit"... Power is unevenly distributed among people so that some have more and others have less. We all learn this very early on, as parents - and then other adults who are in charge - are in the position of being able to force children into doing things they would not otherwise do. This continues on well beyond childhood. So everyone accepts the existence of hierarchies as a key aspect of the social environment. I think it's been studied quite a lot.

passive vs. active

You make it sounds as if hierarchies happen to us ("power is unevenly distributed" and "everyone accepts the existence"), as if we are victims of some sort of natural process, the way we have to live with polluted air, but my whole point is that we actively construct hierarchies and that many men strive for the top positions. Hierarchies are a product of human behavior, and there is noting passive about them. They are created by the drive for power.

I second Christopher Ryan's welcome.

Great to see that you've joined the PT stable of bloggers. Have fun!

GS

Power

I think that power is an effect and not a cause. In that case what is the context behind power power based behaviors.

Tibetan Buddhism with a much longer history of studying the mind than the west and with the added advantage that they actually study themselves discuss power within the very broad model of the mind and within that context our understanding of power greatly benefits.

Women?

Great post... So, how does the female human figure in all of this?

They Don't

I agree - wonderful, truthful post. I researched on the web for this fact, especially in regard to religion. LOL! I should have figured that the words power hungry and men were no where to be found in discussion outside of the verses in the Bible! Wow! I don't see how you can have true humility without the loss of power. Women often are seen (this is by my own observation, plus that in a plethera of articles) as either submissive, conformant (passive peacemakers), or there are some who are smart enough to know that when a man is power hungry, they do not have control over anyone, especially themselves. Did you see in the article where the alpha male chimp got an instant boost in his ego if the female was around/ paid attention to him? Same thing with humans. I also agree that without the power arrangement in many a man's life (I won't say all), they are miserable and seek to restore their center-stage presence. This is completely NOT in regard to those around them, including their family.

Power and Adoration in Males

Male society is so rooted in hierarchy that males don't just like power, they love power, and they adore power - for themselves, and sadly, in others.

It may well be the most beastly feature of men to be "hooked on power," such that it infects all of their relationships, makes mice of men, and men of mice.

Men gravitate toward power more than they gravitate toward women because it is seen as a survival device in males, the ability to make security easier, and to prevent the fear they otherwise would have in not having power nearby as support, guide, and leader.

Power is as natural to men as nurturing is to women, and perhaps the dichotomy is why men are from mars and women are from venus.

Some, but few women are into power. If so, it for a different purpose, and for protection of their young, more than to flaunt it for other means. The entire power thing for men has been studied but not nearly enough to make the connection between successful men without it, and unsuccessful men with it.

Banter

I would argue that nuturing is not necessarily natural to all women, nor is the lust for power natural to men. I believe this has been fostered over many centuries and is a result of a fallen world. I would also argue that women may give up more easily on the power side - in order that they may undercut and expose a man in his strive t ward power. In this way the true motives (of the power hungry) of a man are exposed.

Banter

I would argue that nuturing is not necessarily natural to all women, nor is the lust for power natural to men. I believe this has been fostered over many centuries and is a result of a fallen world. I would also argue that women may give up more easily on the power side - in order that they may undercut and expose a man in his strive t ward power. In this way the true motives (of the power hungry) of a man are exposed.

Where does the desire for power come from?

I agree with Mr de Waal:

"Hierarchies are a product of human behavior, and there is noting passive about them. They are created by the drive for power."

But where does the drive for power come from?

Taking cues from other commenters, I think the drive for power comes from:

- the desire to mate & pass on genes (alpha head of harem);
- the desire to survive (through having supporters, resources etc.);
- the ego over-compensating for a perceived lack of control, or trying to exert an inappropriate amount of control.

If one of the functions of the ego is to keep us safe, then it makes sense that one way it might do this is by trying to exert control over the world.

Someone said that women can have a drive for power too. Are women hooked into the power hierarchy too? Of course. But I think they take it less seriously - or perhaps don't usually compete directly with men.

I agree that humility means giving up power - or rather, position in the hierarchy, which is perhaps something separate. "Power" can also mean "effectiveness".

I also agree with someone who said that the lust for power can itself be a weakness, a vulnerability. It's often said, and is usually true in my experience, that a bully is a coward.

Instincts versus rationality

I'm sorry - it's Dr de Waal.

I think we sometimes forget that we tend to act as much from instinct as from rationality.

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Frans de Waal, Ph.D., is a renowned primatologist interested in human psychology.

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