Pitfalls in the Pursuit of Power - PsychTests.com Takes a Peak into the Mind of Power-Trippers

PsychTests.com's delves into the personalities of people who are more likely to abuse power if given a position of authority.


PsychTests.com, a pioneer in online psychological assessments, has released its newest research on how people view power. Power-hungry people or "power-trippers" are more likely to have a self-serving view of authority, and tend to be excessively competitive and controlling, even to the demise of their personal relationships.

It's addictive. Having the power to tell others what to do; to be in a position that automatically commands respect - it's no surprise that sometimes, it can get to people's heads. This doesn't mean that power corrupts absolutely, but according to PsychTests' research, power can mean very different things to different people.

There are some traits, according to PsychTests researchers, that can potentially pre-dispose people to abuse authority if given such responsibility. These include excessive competitiveness, a tendency to want to dominate and control others regardless of the situation, and a self-serving attitude towards power. And this hunger for power and control has its consequences. "Power trippers" are more likely to have problems in their professional and personal relationships (and to have a relationship end due to their excessive need for control). They are also less satisfied with their job, and tend to see power as important, if not crucial, to their success. In essence, those who are power-hungry are more likely to believe that being in a position of power will improve their life. How?

"Those who hunger for power believe that once given a position of authority, they will get the respect and social status they feel they deserve," explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests. "In fact, 62% of people in our sample believe that being in a position of power will improve their life. This could be the case for some people, but it depends a great deal on their personality. There are those who, when given power, will use to make a difference that benefits a lot of people. Those who are more self-serving and who use their influence over others as a way to boost their ego are more likely to alienate others. Power is a tool that, when used the wrong way, can do a lot of harm."

Attitude toward power, it seems, plays a major role in how a person will wield their authority. When comparing people with a self-serving view of power to those who believe that it is something that should be used responsibly, PsychTests' research revealed some surprising differences:

  • 88% of those who are self-serving will use intimidation to get what they want, compared to 7% of the responsible group.
  • 98% of those who are self-serving see power as a way to improve their social status, compared to 8% of the responsible group.
  • 88% of those who are self-serving believe that doing their best is not enough - they need to BE the best (compared to 26% of the responsible group).
  • 96% of those who are self-serving dislike being outperformed by others, compared to 31% of the responsible group.
  • 81% of those who are self-serving believe that being in a position of power is the only way they can gain the respect of others, compared to 1% of the responsible group.
  • 96% of those who are self-serving believe that being in a position of power means that they are superior to others, compared to 1% of the responsible group.
  • 89% of those who are self-serving stated that they are much more confident in a position of authority than when they are expected to follow, compared to 1% of the responsible group.
  • 78% of those who are self-serving feel uneasy when they are not the ones in charge of a task, compared to 15% of the responsible group.
  • 95% of those who are self-serving aim to win ... even in friendly competitions, compared to 20% of the responsible group.
  • 29% of those who are self-serving would put other people's needs first if given a position of power, compared to 83% of the responsible group.

"Being in a position of power doesn't make you a leader; it doesn't give you charisma," says Dr. Jerabek. "And what a lot of people don't realize is the fact that when you pull rank to make sure people do what you want them to do, you lose some of that power. They may very well follow your orders, but will do so grudgingly. So the morale of this study is, if you have power and want to keep it, use it sparingly, when it really matters and for the good of the whole."

HR managers interested in using this test or other pre-employment tests can visit : http://www.archprofile.com/corporate/index

A summary document with basic reliability and validity information is available free of charge at : http://testyourself.psychtests.com/tests/showpdf.php?name=power_r/psychtests/power_r.pdf

A full psychometric report is available to professional users, upon request.
For more information on this study, please contact:

Ilona Jerabek, Ph.D., President
Psychtests AIM Inc.

About Psychtests AIM Inc.

Psychtests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. Psychtests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts. The company's research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.