The dominance behavioral system and manic temperament: motivation for dominance, self-perceptions of power, and socially dominant behaviors

J Affect Disord. 2012 Dec 15;142(1-3):275-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.05.015. Epub 2012 Jul 25.


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 (manic temperament) relate to the dominance system.

Method: Four studies examine whether manic temperament, 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 manic temperament and dominance constructs, and findings have not yet been generalized to a clinical sample.

Conclusions: Taken together, results support the hypothesis that manic temperament 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Bipolar Disorder / epidemiology
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Power, Psychological*
  • Prevalence
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Dominance*
  • Temperament*
  • Young Adult