The beginning ideas for the development of a thematic analysis of power motivation in projective stories emerged from speculations that Roger Heyns, Jack Atkinson, and I had when we were refining the thematic assessment of need for affiliation (see chapter 14). In 1952 we were discussing reasons why minimal affiliation imagery came through in stories written about a picture of two men of equal status, a picture that we had assumed would elicit a considerable amount of affiliative imagery. What alternative type of thematic material might emerge, we asked? We immediately turned our attention to issues of power. And it was the hope of developing a companion measure to the study of affiliation motivation that prompted a systematic analysis of power motivation. We thought of power as being an alternative to affiliation.
These original speculations about power motivation were founded primarily on the thinking of Adler (see Ansbacher & Ansbacher, 1956). Adler was quick to see that a general social interest was basic to people's humanity and that social interests often implied assertive concerns with power. Much of his elaborations about social interests focused on early learned feelings of inferiority in connection with the family situation. He assumed that a child innately fears being overwhelmed not only by more powerful parents but also by older siblings.