In this study we argue that when powerholder and target operate in a cooperative context, the decision to use power is influenced by the motive to reach positive joint outcomes. When the context is competitive, the use of power is more dictated by the desire to gain positive outcomes at the expense of the target. Therefore, factors that are indicative of how to bring about positive outcomes for the target will only influence power use in a cooperative context. The results of an experimental study with a 2 (social context: cooperation vs. competition) x2 (relative competence: high vs. low) between-subjects design, with task components generating 2 levels of confidence as within-subjects variable, supported our line of reasoning. Competence of the powerholder as well as confidence as elicited by the task only affected power use in cooperation and not in competition. The results also indicated that the absolute level of power use in competition and cooperation did not differ.