A number of powerful men have recently found themselves under pressure in recent weeks. The corrupting influence of a sense of power seems to be a common factor, whether you are a Syrian dictator who forgot his supposed reforming rhetoric, a “seductive” socialist French Banker, an international cyber-guru with leaked security data and poor manners, or a Liberal Democrat minister (It’s a sense of power, not actual power remember). There is some evidence to back up the view that these people think they are above the inconveniences that mere mortals have to comply with:
Although people almost always know the right thing to do – cheating is wrong – their sense of power makes it easier to rationalize away the ethical lapse. For instance, when the psychologists asked the subjects (in both low- and high-power conditions) how they would judge an individual who drove too fast when late for an appointment, people in the high-power group consistently said it was worse when others committed those crimes than when they did themselves. In other words, the feeling of eminence led people to conclude that they had a good reason for speeding – they’re important people, with important things to do – but that everyone else should follow the posted signs.