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Power 

Chapter:
Power
Author(s):

Alfonso Troisi

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199393404.003.0013
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date: 24 June 2021

This chapter focuses on social control obtained through coercion. To answer the question of why some people strive for power, evolutionary behavioral biologists look at the phylogeny of dominance systems. Sociophysiology has unveiled the physiological correlates, such as levels of serotonin and testosterone, of dominant and subordinate status in monkeys and humans, and comparative studies have shown the impact of social hierarchies on health and disease vulnerability. Unlike most human societies that arose after the agricultural revolution of 12,000 years ago, groups of hunter-gatherers actively ostracized any individual attempt to attain dominant status. This ecological condition was wiped out by the agricultural revolution, and the more primitive predisposition toward hierarchical relationships re-emerged in human societies. The final section of the chapter illustrates recent data from psychological studies showing the personality correlates of two types of power that coexist in contemporary social groups: power based on intimidation and oppression, and power based on prestige and self-esteem.

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