Does Power Increase Hypocrisy?

by Jay Deragon on 11/07/2012

People in power seem to think they can change their story to fit the situation and they are entitled to change values as needed. Power has a tendency to justify any action regardless of proclaimed values.

We’ve all seen it. Leaders proclaim they are trustworthy, honorable and honest. However, when the light is shined on their actions and their testimonies it becomes clear that they don’t stand behind their words.  When confronted you will see anger at even the suggestion that their values are inconsistent. When you attempt to question their words and deeds they discard you and discredit you among those who know better than to question them.  It has been said “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” And we wonder why people get discouraged by leaders who love their power more than integrity.

In an article titled Power and Moral Hypocrisy by Dan Ariely states: The researchers found that compared to participants without power, powerful participants were stricter in judging others’ moral transgressions but more lenient in judging their own: “power increases hypocrisy, meaning that the powerful show a greater discrepancy between what they practice and what they preach.”

Joris and Adam hypothesized that this power-hypocrisy connection was due to the sense of entitlement that comes with positions of power. But what if you took away that entitlement by having participants view their power as illegitimate? In that case, the researchers posited, you would see the power-hypocrisy effect disappear.

When power (or lack thereof) is legitimate, the powerful also exhibited moral hypocrisy (being less moral themselves but judging others more harshly), while the powerless weren’t – just as before. But when power (or lack thereof) was illegitimate, the powerful didn’t show hypocrisy. In fact, the moral hypocrisy effect not only disappeared but was reversed, with the illegitimately powerful becoming stricter in judging their own behavior and more lenient in judging the others.

In the Social Era power is distributed and created from collaboration with like minded crowds.  While the Kingdoms of power will remain the powerful and influential will deny the Kingdoms their prosperity. Denying the Kings of Kingdoms will simply be reflected by the lack of engagement with those organizations ruled by kings.

And the Kings will wonder why their kingdoms failed.

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