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Power Corrupts. Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. - PROVEN

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An interesting article will appear in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science. It seems that power does corrupt. I know... I know. You're thinking to yourself, "Gee. Thanks, Captain Obvious." However, the results are still pretty interesting and lend some further insights into the phenomenon.

 

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091229105906.htm

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. New research from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University explores why powerful people - many of whom take a moral high ground - don't practice what they preach.

 

Researchers sought to determine whether power inspires hypocrisy, the tendency to hold high standards for others while performing morally suspect behaviors oneself. The research finds that power makes people stricter in moral judgment of others - while being less strict of their own behavior.

 

<...>

 

Through a series of five experiments, the researchers examined the impact of power on moral hypocrisy. <...> Galinsky noted that moral hypocrisy has its greatest impact among people who are legitimately powerful. <
>

 

 

Part of me considered putting this in the Politics section so we could discuss whether or not we are doomed based on our current power structure in government, but I feel this topic might branch somewhere I cannot foresee and did not want to limit its tributaries.

 

What are your thoughts? Is this phenomenon limited to humans, or common in the animal kingdom? Are there caveats or exceptions? Does supporting research like this offer justification for those who act in such a manner?

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Would it mean that god is corrupted absolutely?

 

Which one?

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Would it mean that god is corrupted absolutely?

 

I think I'd prefer to keep this topic related to beings whose existence is empirically demonstrable. ;)

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Only if God is human, and I'm sure there are quite a few people who disagree with that proposition.

 

But please, as iNow says, I'd prefer to keep this topic away from God and more towards humans. Religious discussions never seem to end well here.

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Which one?

 

the most powerful one of course! sorry inow, I couldn't resist!

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I think that this holds true for any creature which is capable of thought.

So, if you think animals can think, then animals can be corrupted. If not, then no.

I think any exceptions are because people had personality traits that caused them not to get corrupted, or they made a conscious effort not to be. But as a rule, corruption follows power.

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sorry inow, I couldn't resist!

No worries, my good man. I know where your heart is. :D

 

 

 


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I think that this holds true for any creature which is capable of thought.

So, if you think animals can think, then animals can be corrupted.

 

Thanks, NeedfulThings. I had a similar thought, but it was so speculative that I really wanted to ping it against the thoughts of others to see if I was alone in that supposition. It appears that maybe I 'm not. :)

 

However, I'm left wondering what it would mean for an animal to be "corrupt," and how that might manifest.

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This article simply states the obvious; that power can corrupt and that the greater the power the greater the corruption. However, it comes nowhere near stating this as an absolute, in fact, it doesn't even try to quantify much other than to say this or that is more likely to occur. If we assume that corruption=hypocrisy, as is done in this article, then it can be overcome in an open and democratic society, if it is unacceptable to the populace. Even if the statement about corruption from power applies to a substantial majority of people, an observant public can keep those who are not corrupted in power. Now all we need to do is find somewhere that has an open and democratic society with an observant public.

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This article simply states the obvious; that power can corrupt and that the greater the power the greater the corruption. However, it comes nowhere near stating this as an absolute, in fact, it doesn't even try to quantify much other than to say this or that is more likely to occur.

 

For clarity, npts... Are you referring to the news article I shared, or the actual peer-reviewed publication which the article I shared was summarizing (.doc linked below)?

 

http://stapel.socialpsychology.nl/downloads/Lammers-Stoker-Stapel-Psy-Science.doc

 

 

Also, regardless... I don't think you're likely to find much (if any) scientific research that claims anything whatsoever in absolute terms. Of the several hundreds of articles I've read through the years, they each (every one of them) tend to hedge their bets a bit and leave room for possible exception/changes... I.e. They speak in likeliness and probabilities, not in definitive absolutes.

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For clarity, npts... Are you referring to the news article I shared, or the actual peer-reviewed publication which the article I shared was summarizing (.doc linked below)?

 

http://stapel.socialpsychology.nl/downloads/Lammers-Stoker-Stapel-Psy-Science.doc

 

 

Also, regardless... I don't think you're likely to find much (if any) scientific research that claims anything whatsoever in absolute terms. Of the several hundreds of articles I've read through the years, they each (every one of them) tend to hedge their bets a bit and leave room for possible exception/changes... I.e. They speak in likeliness and probabilities, not in definitive absolutes.

 

Of course they speak in likelihoods and probabilities, human nature is being talked about. Two humans will frequently do opposite things when presented identical situations. That makes any statement like "absolute power corrupts absolutely" patently false because it only applies generally and not in every case. The authors, in fact, talk about exceptions to the rule where the perception of not having or being deserving of power acts as a restraint but I see nowhere that this is claimed to be the only factor. Perhaps my reading comprehension is faulty but I could not see the "proof" for such a broad, all-encompassing statement. The greater factor IMHO is that it is far easier to obtain power by being corrupt and corrupt individuals are usually the ones to seek it.

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That makes any statement like "absolute power corrupts absolutely" patently false because it only applies generally and not in every case.

 

Ah. That makes sense. Please blame me, though... not the article or its authors. I was just using a common phrase ("power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely") and then added "PROVEN!" as a title to draw some attention to the thread. I see now that I have just made myself one of those awful science journalists who misrepresents facts and misreports what the science actually says. I'm not kidding when I tell you that I'm rather embarrassed, since I have so often derided those exact types of journalists.

 

Anyway, that's my bad. Not related to the article.

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I am not sure if power corrupts or if it's the fear of loosing power that actually corrupts?

I don't think power is and of itself corruption but when it is used as suppression on others around you to try and stay on top.

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