Approach/Inhibition Theory of Power

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Approach/Inhibition Theory of Power was developed by Dacher Keltner (2003) and states that power has the ability to transform individuals' psychological states. Most organisms have been shown to display one of the two types of reactions within the environment. These two types of reactions are approach and inhibition.


This is associated with action, seeking rewards or opportunities, increase of physical energy and movement, as well as self-promotion. Power activates people, increasing their drive, energy, and emotion. Often perceived power leads to many positive consequences. An increase in power, therefore, leads to approach behaviors.


This is associated with reaction, protection of ones self, avoidance of potential threats and danger, vigilance, decrease of motivation, and reduced activity levels. A reduction in power leads to inhibition.


  • Forsyth, D.R.(2010). Group Dynamics (5th Edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • eltner, D., Gruenfeld, D., & Anderson, C.P. (In press). Power, Approach, and Inhibition. Psychological Review.