Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 714–721 | Cite as

The implicit need for power predicts recognition speed for dynamic changes in facial expressions of emotion

  • Peter W. Donhauser
  • Andreas G. Rösch
  • Oliver C. Schultheiss
Original Paper


Facial expressions of emotion (FEEs) have been portrayed as potent (dis-) incentives for power-motivated perceivers, because they signal the strength of a sender’s dominance (Stanton et al. in Implicit motives. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 245–278, 2010). Here, we tested the hypothesis that individuals with a high implicit power motive (nPower), who have a disposition to seek (emotional) impact on others, would be faster at recognizing FEEs than individuals low in nPower. In a task employing videos of morphed FEEs, which are gradually changing from neutral to either anger, joy or surprise, higher nPower predicted faster recognition of the displayed emotion as well as a tendency to misidentify joy as anger. Our findings suggest that one way through which people high in nPower are socially influential is their enhanced sensitivity to emotional signals in their social environment.


Implicit power motive Emotion Facial expressions Dominance 



This work was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft [grant SCHU 1210/3-1] awarded to Oliver C. Schultheiss and Andreas G. Rösch and a McClelland Fellowship of the McClelland Center for Research and Innovation (Hay Group) awarded to Andreas G. Rösch.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter W. Donhauser
    • 2
  • Andreas G. Rösch
    • 1
  • Oliver C. Schultheiss
    • 1
  1. 1.Friedrich-Alexander UniversityErlangenGermany
  2. 2.Montreal Neurological InstituteMontrealCanada

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