Charles S. Carver

Johnson, S. L., & Carver, C. S. (2012). The dominance behavioral system and manic temperament: Motivation for dominance, self-perceptions of power, and socially dominant behaviors. Journal of Affective Disorders, 142, 275-282. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.05.015

The dominance behavioral system has been conceptualized as a biologically based system comprising motivation to achieve social power and self-perceptions of power. Biological, behavioral, and social correlates of dominance motivation and self-perceived power have been related to a range of psychopathological tendencies. Preliminary evidence suggests that mania and risk for mania relate to the dominance system. Method: Four studies examine whether risk for mania, measured with the Hypomanic Personality Scale (HPS), is related to elevations in dominance motivation, self-perceptions of power, and engagement in socially dominant behavior across multiple measures. In Study 1, the HPS correlated with measures of dominance motivation and the pursuit of extrinsically-oriented ambitions for fame and wealth among 454 undergraduates. In Study 2, the HPS correlated with perceptions of power and extrinsically-oriented lifetime ambitions among 780 undergraduates. In Study 3, the HPS was related to trait-like tendencies to experience hubristic (dominance-related) pride, as well as dominance motivation and pursuit of extrinsically-oriented ambitions. In Study 4, we developed the Socially Dominant Behavior Scale to capture behaviors reflecting high power. The scale correlated highly with the HPS among 514 undergraduates. Limitations: The studies rely on self-ratings of mania risk and dominance constructs, and findings may not generalize to a clinical sample. Conclusions: Taken together, results support the hypothesis that mania risk is related to a focus on achieving social dominance, ambitions related to achieving social recognition, perceptions of having achieved power, tendencies to experience dominance-related pride, and engagement in social behaviors consistent with this elevated sense of power.

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