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Power is the ability to get what you want. As what you want is often constrained by other people, the use of power often includes changing or influencing what others think, believe and do. It is at the heart of all techniques of changing minds. Further information on power: • • • • • • • • French and Raven's: five forms of power are the most common classification. Hobbes and Power: Thomas Hobbes' 17th century view. Power enhancers: that increase the efficacy of your power. Powerlessness: How we convince ourselves. Power types: that extent and simplify other lists. Strategic Contingencies Theory: become irreplaceable. Three dimensions of power: channels, intent and deliberateness. Toffler's Three Forms of Power: Violence, wealth and knowledge.
Understand the power you have as well as the power of other people. Use your own power carefully. Perhaps the greatest power you can have is to get others to use their power on your behalf. Beware of sleeping dragons: many people will only use their power when aroused. The most effective power is that used so subtly that people do not realize it is being used. Power does not have to be used directly: threats are often effective, especially when accompanied by displays of power. Like gorillas thumping their chests, we seldom need to fight.
French and Raven's Five Forms of Power
The most common description of power is French and Raven (1960). This divides power into five different forms.
This is the power to force someone to do something against their will. It is often physical although other threats may be used. It is the power of dictators, despots and bullies. Coercion can result in physical harm, although its principal goal is compliance. Demonstrations of harm are often used to illustrate what will happen if compliance is not gained. Coercion is also the ultimate power of all governments. Although it is often seen as negative, it is also used to keep the peace. Parents coerce young children who
know no better. A person holds back their friend who is about to step out in front of a car. Other forms of power can also be used in coercive ways, such as when a reward or expertise is withheld or referent power is used to threaten social exclusion.
One of the main reasons we work is for the money we need to conduct our lives. There are many more forms of reward -- in fact anything we find desirable can be a reward, from a million dollar yacht to a pat on the back. Reward power is thus the ability to give other people what they want, and hence ask them to do things for you in exchange. Rewards can also be used to punish, such as when they are withheld. The promise is essentially the same: do this and you will get that.
Legitimate power is that which is invested in a role. Kings, policemen and managers all have legitimate power. The legitimacy may come from a higher power, often one with coercive power. Legitimate power can often thus be the acceptable face of raw power. A common trap that people in such roles can fall into is to forget that people are obeying the position, not them. When they either fall from power or move onto other things, it can be a puzzling surprise that people who used to fawn at your feet no long do so.
This is the power from another person liking you or wanting to be like you. It is the power of charisma and fame and is wielded by all celebrities (by definition) as well as more local social leaders. In wanting to be like these people, we stand near them, hoping some of the charisma will rub off onto us. Those with referent power can also use it for coercion. One of the things we fear most is social exclusion, and all it takes is a word from a social leader for us to be shunned by others in the group.
When I have knowledge and skill that someone else requires, then I have Expert power. This is a very common form of power and is the basis for a very large proportion of human collaboration, including most companies where the principle of specialization allows large and complex enterprises to be undertaken. Expert power is that which is used by Trades Unions when they encourage their members to strike for better pay or working conditions. It is also the power of the specialist R&D Engineer when they threaten to leave unless they get an exorbitant pay rise or a seat by the window. So what? So use these categories as a checklist to determine what forms of power you and others have available. It is a common negotiating mistake to assume you are powerless or have less power than the other person.
Hobbes and power
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was a 17th century thinker who sought to apply the new methods of science and the Greek rigor of logic to sociology. In his 1660 masterwork, 'Leviathan', he describes power and promotes the notion of a commonwealth as an effective society. Hobbes divided motivation into appetites and aversions, predating Freud and his pleasure-pain principle by a couple of centuries.
Hobbes defined power as the ability to secure well-being or personal advantage 'to obtain some future apparent Good'. He saw people as having 'Naturall Power' that come from internal qualities such as intellectual eloquence, physical strength and prudence.
He also noted that we have 'Instrumentall Power' which has the sole purpose of acquiring more power. This includes wealth, reputation and influential friends. He thus saw the quest for power as the quest for command over the power of others. If I can get you to use your power on behalf of my purpose, then I can add your power to my arsenal. In its most simple form, we buy the compliance of others. 'The value or worth of a man is, as of all other things, his Price; that is to say, so much as would be given for the use of his Power.
Hobbes noted that power is relative only to the power of others. If I have less power than you, then I am effectively powerless in your presence. This leads us to a perpetual power struggle with other people, each vying for ever greater power and each seeking to acquire the power of others. He also noticed that there are some people who can never get enough power, and who seek to use others rather than cooperate and live in harmony with them. This he considered a dysfunction.
Hobbes found that many of us find a balance in life and gaining 'sufficient power' is adequate for us. We also seek to co-operate and share power with others to escape from an endless escalation. 'that a man be willing when others are so too, as farre-forth as for Peace and defence of himselfe he shall think it necessary, to lay down the right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himselfe.'
He considered the most effective use of personal power in society is to cede it to a central authority who can use this power without question back on the people who give the power. This effectively leads to an elected monarch and commonwealth, which Hobbes called the 'Leviathan'. The Leviathan, by the way, is monstrous and fearsome sea creature in the book of Job. Going against the Leviathan was an act of great peril.
Manage your power and find your balance. Build it. Lean on the power of others. Share it where appropriate. And help to build an effective democracy where power is used for the common good.
We are born with a pleasure principle, that we will seek immediate gratification of needs, for which our bodies reward us with feelings of pleasure. The reverse is also true, and the pain principle says that, whilst seeking pleasure people will also seek to avoid pain.
The pleasure-pain principle was originated by Sigmund Freud in modern psychoanalysis, although Aristotle noted their significance in his 'Rhetoric', more than 300 years BC. 'We may lay it down that Pleasure is a movement, a movement by which the soul as a whole is consciously brought into its normal state of being; and that Pain is the opposite.' The pleasure principle is at the base on hedonism, the idea that life is to be lived to the full and pleasure sought as a primary goal. Hedonists in the extreme will be self-destructive in their use of sex, drugs, rock and roll and other methods of gratification. Pleasure is also related to Jeremy Benham's notions in Utilitarianism, where the 'felcific calculus' is used to calculate the maximum utilitarian gain in happiness. Pleasure and pain are basic principles in Conditioning, where you get more of what you reward and less of what you punish. Pain can be more immediate than pleasure, leading us to become more concerned with avoidance of pain and hence paying more attention to it. This can develop into a general preference in life towards avoidance. Pleasure and pain are at the root of the principles of Pull and Push.
When pleasure and pain occur together, a certain amount of confusion may occur, which itself may be pleasant or painful and hence determine what happens. Simultaneous pain and pleasure is a basis for masochism.
Lead them such that they choose to act.
How it works
Pulling a person in motivation means creating conditions that they chose themselves. It means showing them how something else will be beneficial to them. It means them deciding rather than just you deciding. Most methods of persuasion are based on creating pull rather than push, which is generally coercive in nature.
Pull creates desire. It is about making the other person want what you are offering. It is subtly changing how they perceive the world such that they see what you have and want it. Once you have created desire, then the internal tension set up in the other person will lead them in the right direction.
Push and Pull
Push and pull are a matched pair: Pushing is the stick to the carrot of pulling. It is fishing rather than shooting. It is selling as opposed to the telling of push methods. It is creating desire rather than creating fear. It is creating attraction rather than repulsion. In business motivation, pushing is a management method whilst pulling is used by leaders. Pulling is more difficult than pushing, but is ultimately more effective. When you push, you do not know what direction the other person will take. It is like the sheepdog running into the flock of sheep: they all head off in different directions. Pulling has just one direction. It is like being the shepherd, towards whom his flock will move. Use push and pull together: Push just to break people away from their current position. This will cause confusion, after which you can much more easily pull them. This method is used by martial artists in such as Aikido and Tai Chi Chuan.
Learn to pull. Much of this site is about pulling. Creating pull means creating desire. Creating desire means knowing not only what people want but how they decide what they want, and working at this process level. Also balance push with pull. Sometimes people need a shove to get them going.
I force you to act, whether you want to do it or not. You feel no option but to obey.
How it works
Many forms of persuasion seek to change what people believe such that they act through their own free will. In a push approach, although physical force may not be used, the people feel they are obliged to comply even though may be against their better judgment.
For non-physical pushing, you need power or authority that impacts the needs that the other person. The level of threat needs to be high enough that they feel obliged to comply with your request. In a company this can be the power to dismiss, demote or sideline them. In business, pushing appears when managers tell their subordinates what to do (as opposed to creating pull by selling them on the idea).
For physical coercion, all you need is to be stronger than them. In countries, the police and military forces have a high coercive capability and are the ultimate tools of government for assuring order in their country. Within companies, security organizations play a similar role. With children, adults physical size gives that power. Between individual adults, coercion can be carried out with physical size, strength, knowledge of martial arts or the use of weapons. Companies need coercion to eject intruders and the occasional employee who lose control of themselves. In practice, it can be bad publicity and companies will do their best to avoid any form of direct force. Governments use coercive methods to control and contain criminals (who themselves tend to push more than pull). They also use it in war with their neighbors and enemies, whether they are the aggressor or the defender.
Although not the best moral approach, sometimes push methods are necessary and sometimes it is used as the easy short-term option. Everything has its price, however, and pushing can cost more in such as the longer-term betrayal effects. Generally speaking, pushing should be minimized wherever possible. Use it only where the greater effort of pulling is inappropriate. If your child is about to run out into traffic then grabbing them is a prudent form of physical coercion. Parents also face endless dilemmas where pushing may
seem necessary. Teenagers tend to listen to their peers more than their parents and parents sometimes fall into push methods to hopefully keep their hormoneridden children on the straight and narrow. Pushing works best in situations where you want people to move from their current positions if you use it just to get them moving. For example, you may show them how they will lose their jobs if do not engage in the change activities.
Attraction vs. avoidance preferences
Some people are motivated more by doing things, whilst others are motivated more by avoiding things.
People who are driven towards doing things tend to have positive goals and seek to achieve specific things. They are forward-looking and see the world as being full of opportunity. They generally have a passion and desire to succeed in order to gain either specific rewards or general recognition. They focus is largely on the future and when they have achieved something they may even forget about it in the headlong charge into further challenges. Some people have problems with this in that they are attracted to too many things. They dart from one opportunity to another, seeking gratification all over the place. They may be looking for something and they may not yet know what they want.
Those who are driven to avoid things something look like they are attracted to the things they are actually doing, but they are actually looking more over their shoulder than in front of them. For example people who are very energetic at work may be driven more by a worry about failure or criticism than by an attraction towards achievement. Those who are avoidance-driven focus more by their fears than their desires (which may well be fears in disguise). Avoidance can be a high-stress preference. We may be generally driven by attraction when things are going well, but when we are threatened or otherwise experience high levels of stress, we may use an avoidance strategy to get away from that discomfort. A problem with avoidance when compared to attraction is that there are many directions in which to run away from something, yet only one way you can run towards something. Motivating a person by triggering avoidance is not necessarily a helpful approach.
For those who are driven by attraction, seek their passions and lay opportunity in their path. They will swoop towards what you are offering.
For those driven by avoidance, point out the problems of the past and the dangers of the present. Show them a future where they can at least avoid the worst of the problems they face. When you have a choice, be a shepherd. A sheep runs in any direction to get away from a sheepdog, making it work extra hard, whilst it runs towards the shepherd who stands in one place and calls them.
When we perceive a significant threat to us, then our bodies get ready either for a fight to the death or a desperate flight from certain defeat by a clearly superior adversary.
Fight or flight effects include: • Our senses sharpening. Pupils dilate (open out) so we can see more clearly, even in darkness. Our hairs stand on end, making us more sensitive to our environment (and also making us appear larger, hopefully intimidating our opponent). • The cardio-vascular system leaping into action, with the heart pump rate going from one up to five gallons per minutes and our arteries constricting to maximize pressure around the system whilst the veins open out to ease return of blood to the heart. • The respiratory system joining in as the lungs, throat and nostrils open up and breathing speeding up to get more air in the system so the increased blood flow can be re-oxygenated. The blood carries oxygen to the muscles, allowing them to work harder. Deeper breathing also helps us to scream more loudly! • Fat from fatty cells and glucose from the liver being metabolized to create instant energy. • Blood vessels to the kidney and digestive system being constricted, effectively shutting down systems that are not essential. A part of this effect is reduction of saliva in the mouth. The bowels and bladder may also open out to reduce the need for other internal actions (this might also dissuade our attackers!). • Blood vessels to the skin being constricted reducing any potential blood loss. Sweat glands also open, providing an external cooling liquid to our overworked system. (this makes the skin look pale and clammy). • Endorphins, which are the body's natural pain killers, are released (when you are fighting, you do not want be bothered with pain–-that can be put off until later.) • The natural judgment system is also turned down and more primitive responses take over–this is a time for action rather than deep thought.
Unfortunately, we are historically too close to the original value of this primitive response for our systems to have evolved to a more appropriate use of it, and many of life’s stresses trigger this response. The surprises and shocks of modern living leave us in a permanent state of arousal that takes its toll on our bodies, as described by Hans Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome. It also happens when a creative new idea makes us feel uncertain about things of which we previously were sure. The biochemical changes in our brain make us aggressive, fighting the new idea, or make us timid, fleeing from it.
Watch out for angry red faces, cold and clammy skin, signs of a dry mouth, increased breathing rates and jitteriness from activated muscles (in yourself, as well as others). Also watch out for the various forms of coping that can be dysfunctional and contrary to behavior you are seeking to create. When others are thus aroused, they are not thinking straight and can be manipulated. You may even want to provoke them into this state. They also may become aggressive and unpredictable, so on the other hand you may want to avoid getting them into this state! If you get wound up yourself, stop. Get out. Use any excuse to go somewhere and calm down.
Acquired Needs Theory
Need are shaped over time by our experiences over time. Most of these fall into three general categories of needs: • Achievement (nAch) • Affiliation (nAff) • Power (nPow) Acquired Needs Theory is also known as the Three-Need Theory or Learned Need Theory.
We have different preferences
We will tend have one of these needs that affects us more powerfully than others and thus affects our behaviors: • Achievers seek to excel and appreciate frequent recognition of how well they are doing. They will avoid low risk activities that have no chance of gain. They also will avoid high risks where there is a significant chance of failure.
• Affiliation seekers look for harmonious relationships with other people. They will thus tend to conform and shy away from standing out. The seek approval rather than recognition. • Power seekers want power either to control other people (for their own goals) or to achieve higher goals (for the greater good). They seek neither recognition nor approval from others -- only agreement and compliance.
A common way of discovering our tendencies towards these is with a Thematic Apperception Test, which is a set of black-and-white pictures on cards, each showing an emotionally powerful situation. The person is presented with one card at a time and asked to make up a story about each situation.
Challenge achievers with stretching goals. Offer affiliation-seekers safety and approval. Beware of personal power-seekers trying to turn the tables on you or use other Machiavellian methods. Make sure you have sufficient power of your own, or show how you can help them achieve more power.
Understand your own tendencies. Curb the excesses and, especially if you seek affiliation, beware of those who would use this against you and for their own benefit alone
People choose that which provides greatest value (usefulness, happiness, utility). Their choices usually include consideration of other people.
Utilitarianism is based in arguments of 18th/19th century economists Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill and has the basic general principle that people will tend to act towards choosing the optimal solution that will make them most happy. This principle is also extended to views that utilitarianism also applies to groups, and that people will choose actions that will be of most benefit to the most people. This provides a non-ethically-based explanation of altruism and is in opposition to the views of egoism, which assumes that all actions are self-based. It is based on rational assumptions that an absolute value can be assigned to all things and hence all choices can be made through a hedonistic calculus. As an
example, utilitarians view punishment as useful in the prevention of crime, rather than a form of retribution. The rational and calculable nature of utilitarianism makes it useful for disciplines, notably economics, that seeks to model our entire existence, and government, that seeks to create workable and generally acceptable laws. Bentham's (1824) principles of utility are: • Mankind governed by pain and pleasure: Nature has made us as motivated first by avoidance of pain and attraction to pleasure • Principle of utility, what: The principle is that which 'approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question'. • Utility, what: Utility is 'that property in an object whereby it tends to product benefit, advantage, pleasure, good or happiness ... or ... to prevent the happening of mischief, pain evil, or unhappiness to the party whose interest is considered'. • Interest in the community: The interest of a community is the sum of the interests of its members. • You cannot talk about the interest of the community without considering the interest of the individual. • An action is conformable to the principle of utility, what: Conformance of an action is when 'the tendency it has to augment the happiness of the community is greater than any it has to diminish it'. • A measure of government conformable to the principle of utility, what: Government conforms to the principle when it increases the greater good of the community. Variations on Utilitarianism include: • • • • Ideal utilitarianism: consciousness, knowledge, etc. as intrinsically valuable. Negative utilitarianism: focus first on prevention of suffering. Rule utilitarianism: judging particular acts as right or wrong by a given rule. Act utilitarianism: an act is right or wrong depending on personal value.
Where Utilitarianism falls down is in the way that people have incomplete information and have bounded rationality. They make decisions on emotional bases and split-second events and in a way that confounds utilitarian explanation.
Explanations > Social Research > Philosophies of Social Research > Positivism Principle | Discussion | See also
All knowledge comes from 'positive' information of observable experience. Scientific methods are the best way of achieving this. All else is metaphysics.
The problem with social research is that it is not easy to get solid and repeatable results, as we are such a complex and variable species. In the history of social understanding, Positivism originated out of the French Enlightenment, with French philosopher Auguste Comte, who sought to the replace the 'brainpower approach' of Rationalism by leveraging the principles of the natural sciences (such as Physics, Chemistry and Biology). At the time of Comte, science was having a huge impact and was steadily replacing religion as the key authority for knowledge about what was true or false. Even today, when something is pronounced 'scientific' then it is generally held to be irrefutable. Comte's three stages of scientific knowledge:
Comte's three stages Stage of knowledge Foundations of belief Social base
Stage 1 Fictitious knowledg e Faith and custom Family
Stage 2 Metaphysical knowledge Philosophy State
Stage 3 Scientific knowledg e Rational logic Humanity
The roots of Positivism lie particularly with Empiricism, which works only with observable facts, seeing that beyond this is the realm of logic and mathematics. The basic principle of Positivism is that all factual knowledge is based on the "positive" information gained from observable experience, and that any ideas beyond this realm of demonstrable fact are metaphysical. Only analytic statements are allowed to be known as true through reason alone. Thus 'Roses are flowers' is analytic, whilst 'Roses are fragrant' is synthetic and requires evidence.
The six tenets of Positivism are:
Tenet Naturalism Phenomenalism Nominalism
Meaning The principles of the natural sciences should be used for social science. Only observable phenomena provide valid information. Words of scientific value have fixed and single meanings. The existence of a word does not imply the existence of what it describes. Things can be studied by reducing them to their smallest parts (and the whole is the sum of the parts). The goal of science is to create generalised laws (which are useful for such as prediction). Facts are to sought. Values have no meaning for science.
Atomism Scientific laws Facts and values
Positivism seeks empirical regularities, which are correlations between two variables. This does not need to be causal in nature, but it does allow laws to be defined and predictions made. It has been used to justify inequality (eg. Herbert Spencer in industrial revolution and general empire) and support racialism (e.g. John Knox's skull-size measurements and Hans Eysenck's IQ assessments). Forms of Positivism include: • Social Positivism - of Comte, which showed people as evolving. • Critical Positivism - of Ernst Mach, who focused on immediate experience. • Logical Positivism - of Von Mises And the Vienna circle, which took a harder line. In particular: Logical Positivism places particular emphasis on sense experience and observation and attempted to eradiate metaphysics and synthetic statements. Promoted by the 'Vienna Circle'. For each object, a definitive 'mimetic' statement can be made to accurately reflect the object. They used inductive approaches, collecting data and building theories on this. Logical Positivists include early Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell and Alfred Whitehead (Principia Mathematica) and Rudolph Carnap. In Standard Positivism Carl Hempel countered Logical Positivist use of inductive methods with using deduction to first identify possible laws which are then proven or otherwise in experiments. (Behaviourism used this). It also sought to pull free of value statements of scientists. Although Positivism has since been shown to be inadequate to study the full range of human experience, it has been hugely influential and still affects the significant use of experiments and statistics in social research.
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