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Power Promotes Hypocrisy, Study Finds 
ByEdMo   posted on10 Jan, 12 4217 Views 0 Comments Research Add to favorite

2009 may well be remembered for its scandal-ridden headlines, from admissions of extramarital affairs by governors and senators, to corporate executives flying private jets while cutting employee benefits, and most recently, to a mysterious early morning car crash in Florida. The past year has been marked by a series of moral transgressions by powerful figures in political, business and celebrity circles.

A new study explores why powerful people many of whom take a moral high ground dont practise what they preach.

Researchers sought to determine whether power inspires hypocrisy, the tendency to hold high standards for others while performing morally suspect behaviours oneself. The research found that power makes people stricter in moral judgment of others while going easier on themselves.

The research was conducted by Joris Lammers and Diederik A. Stapel of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, and by Adam Galinsky of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. The article is to appear in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science.

This research is especially relevant to the biggest scandals of 2009, as we look back on how private behaviour often contradicted the public stance of particular individuals in power, said Galinsky.For instance, we saw some politicians use public funds for private benefits while calling for smaller government, or have extramarital affairs while advocating family values. Similarly, we witnessed CEOs of major financial institutions accepting executive bonuses while simultaneously asking for government bailout money.

According to our research, power and influence can cause a severe disconnect between public judgment and private behaviour, and as a result, the powerful are stricter in their judgment of others while being more lenient toward their own actions, he continued.

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