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Giving or Taking: The Role of Dispositional Power Motivation and Positive Affect in Profit Maximization?


  • Markus Quirin

    () (University of Osnabrueck)

  • Martin Beckenkamp

    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods)

  • Julius Kuhl

    (University of Osnabrueck)


Socio-economic decisions are commonly explained by rational cost vs. benefit considerations, whereas person variables have not usually been considered. The present study aims at investigating the degree to which dispositional power motivation and affective states predict socio-economic decisions. The power motive was assessed both indirectly and directly using a TAT-like picture test and a power motive self-report, respectively. After nine months, 62 students completed an affect rating and performed on a money allocation task (Social Values Questionnaire). We hypothesized and confirmed that dispositional power should be associated with a tendency to maximize one’s profit but to care less about another party’s profit. Additionally, positive affect showed effects in the same direction. The results are discussed with respect to a motivational approach explaining socio-economic behaviour.

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  • Markus Quirin & Martin Beckenkamp & Julius Kuhl, 2008. "Giving or Taking: The Role of Dispositional Power Motivation and Positive Affect in Profit Maximization?," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2008_15, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  • Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2008_15

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John A. List, 2007. "On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 482-493.
    2. Brosig, Jeannette, 2002. "Identifying cooperative behavior: some experimental results in a prisoner's dilemma game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 275-290, March.
    3. Reuben, Ernesto & van Winden, Frans, 2008. "Social ties and coordination on negative reciprocity: The role of affect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 34-53, February.
    4. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
    5. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2004. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 857-869, September.
    6. Bechara, Antoine & Damasio, Antonio R., 2005. "The somatic marker hypothesis: A neural theory of economic decision," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 336-372, August.
    7. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
    8. Joseph Henrich & Robert Boyd & Samuel Bowles & Colin Camerer & Ernst Fehr & Herbert Gintis & Richard McElreath & Michael Alvard & Abigail Barr & Jean Ensminger & Kim Hill & Francisco Gil-White & Micha, 2001. "Economic Man in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Behavioral Experiments in Fifteen Small-Scale Societies," Working Papers 01-11-063, Santa Fe Institute.
    9. repec:dgr:uvatin:20040098 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item


    economic decision-making; rational choice theory; personality; implicit power motive; positive affect; operant motive test;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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