Inhibited Power Motivation and Persuasive Communication: A Lens Model Analysis


  • Oliver C. Schultheiss and Joachim C. Brunstein, Department of Psychology, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany.

  • Preparation of this manuscript was facilitated by German Science Foundation Grants SCHU 1210/1-1 and 2-1 to the first author. Portions of this research have been presented at the 105th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Chicago, August 1997. We gratefully acknowledge the help of Petra Rothe in collecting the data and coding the TATs and videotapes, and Ruth Grässmann, Kathrin Mantel, Raïna Tiepke, Arne Weidemann, and Kerstin Sperschneider for rating participants' videotaped presentations.

concerning this article should be addressed to Oliver C. Schultheiss, who is now at the Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, 525 East University Ave., Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1109. Electronic mail may be sent to


ABSTRACT The authors tested the hypothesis that after motive arousal, individuals with an inhibited power motive (IPM) would excel at a persuasive task and explored the behavioral strategies IPM individuals use to that purpose. Sixty-eight participants presented their point of view on a controversial subject to another person. Power motivation and inhibition were both assessed by a picture-story test. Prior to their presentation, half of the participants imaginatively explored the ensuing task. The other half was assigned to a no-imagery control condition. Lens model analysis of videotaped presentations revealed that IPM participants in the imagery condition were judged to be the most persuasive of all participants. This interactive effect of power motivation, inhibition, and imagery condition was accounted for by three behavioral cues: verbal fluency, gesturing, and eyebrow lifts. No comparable effects emerged among no-imagery participants.