Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Dr. Schuyler Huck

Committee Members

Dr. Joy DeSensi, Dr. Mark Hector, Dr. P. Gary Klukken, Dr. J. Elaine Seat


The present study addresses power in a discussion group format. The purpose of the study is to examine the experience of group discussion of power by college women and to test for an effect of that experience on measures of self-efficacy, attitudes about women, and depression. The study uses Foucault’s definition of power and a postmodern feminist approach to therapy and research. Sixteen participants joined one of three discussion groups about power. Each group met three times to discuss their understanding and experiences of power. Pre-, post-, and delayed post-test measures of depression, self-efficacy, and attitude towards women were administered to all three discussion groups before the first group meeting, three weeks after the groups concluded, and again after three months. Individual interviews were conducted with ten participants after the last group meeting. In the interviews, participants elaborated on their thoughts about power and described their experience of participating in the discussion groups. A one-way, repeated measures analysis of variance was performed on the questionnaire data and revealed no significant changes on the measures over the course of the study. The content from each group discussion session was subjected to discourse analysis. Discourses on power over others, control over one’s emotions, power in the workplace, and power in social situations were present. The contents of the individual interviews were transcribed and reviewed using discourse analysis. Discourses on conflict and manipulation, leadership, and gender roles were present. The group process in the discussion groups was analyzed in terms of the participation of members and the presence of inappropriate laughter, and the stated impact of the study on participants. The results are discussed in the context of the literature on power. Implications of the findings for feminism and the psychology of women are presented and recommendations are made for future research.

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