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Author Topic: The Psychology of Power  (Read 589 times)

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Offline VekseidTopic starter

The Psychology of Power
« on: January 23, 2010, 11:35:55 AM »
Power corrupts those who think they deserve it.

An interesting find that actually confirms what I've found here at Elliquiy.

*first part snipped*

The “powerful” who had been primed to believe they were entitled to their power readily engaged in acts of moral hypocrisy. They assigned a value of 5.1 to others engaging in the theft of the bicycle while rating the action at 6.9 if they were to do it themselves. Among participants in all of the low-power states, morally hypocritical behaviour inverted itself, as it had in the case of tax fraud. “Legitimate” low-power individuals assigned others a score of 5.1 if they stole a bicycle and gave themselves a 4.3. Those primed to feel that their lack of power was illegitimate behaved similarly, assigning values of 4.7 and 4.4 respectively.

However, an intriguing characteristic emerged among participants in high-power states who felt they did not deserve their elevated positions. These people showed a similar tendency to that found in low-power individuals—to be harsh on themselves and less harsh on others—but the effect was considerably more dramatic. They felt that others warranted a lenient 6.0 on the morality scale when stealing a bike but assigned a highly immoral 3.9 if they took it themselves. Dr Lammers and Dr Galinsky call this reversal “hypercrisy”.

They argue, therefore, that people with power that they think is justified break rules not only because they can get away with it, but also because they feel at some intuitive level that they are entitled to take what they want. This sense of entitlement is crucial to understanding why people misbehave in high office. In its absence, abuses will be less likely. The word “privilege” translates as “private law”. If Dr Lammers and Dr Galinsky are right, the sense which some powerful people seem to have that different rules apply to them is not just a convenient smoke screen. They genuinely believe it.

What explains hypercrisy is less obvious. It is known, though, from experiments on other species that if those at the bottom of a dominance hierarchy show signs of getting uppity, those at the top react both quickly and aggressively. Hypercrisy might thus be a signal of submissiveness—one that is exaggerated in creatures that feel themselves to be in the wrong place in the hierarchy. By applying reverse privileges to themselves, they hope to escape punishment from the real dominants. Perhaps the lesson, then, is that corruption and hypocrisy are the price that societies pay for being led by alpha males (and, in some cases, alpha females). The alternative, though cleaner, is leadership by wimps.

I disagree with the leadership by wimps part, though a lot of dominants certainly feel entitled beyond their capabilities. I feel that kicking the jerks to the curb works wonders, but that may just be my opinion.

Offline Trieste

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Re: The Psychology of Power
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2010, 04:08:38 PM »
What a disappointing conclusion to an otherwise fascinating article. I would say this goes to show that we should go by the nomination system (with nomination of oneself or the person who nominated you being disallowed) but that's probably a little too simplistic.

Offline BlisteredBlood

Re: The Psychology of Power
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2010, 03:07:48 AM »
Hence the old saying, Vek.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely, regardless of whether it's an alpha male posturing and preening himself in front of everyone just because he feels like it or some third rate hack looking to make his mark in the world because no one respects him; much less the alpha male.

But let's look at it in a more descriptive stance.

So what does the hack do in order to gain his fifteen minutes of fame? He goes out and tries to find ways to gain his foothold, build up and expand his influence on others until he finds himself sitting on top. How he goes about it is entirely up to him, but there are two pathways as to how one can get to the top, but they do have a reversal of fortune tied to each. One, they undergo a meteoric rise because of some one-hit wonder type of deal, but they fizzle out just as quickly after some period of time. Two, they build on their influence slowly, but they don't gain their notoriety as quickly and eventually disappear into the void as if they were never there to begin with.

So now that the third rate hack has now become the big cheese, where does he/she go from there? Well, this might come from someone who doesn't really have a complete grasp of psychology nor do I make myself out to have an Associate's Degree in the field, but here's a theory.

They will only want to go after more and more things to sway under their influence so they can maintain their control on the general populace. It could be anything, like offering refunds on valid purchases, increased tax credit on buying a specific item or - as I recall from playing numerous sessions of Romance of the Three Kingdoms - bribing someone to switch sides or virtually anything else within their limitations of logic.

And the vicious circle begins again with a new pushover deciding he/she had enough of the current power structure and decided to do something about it.

Again. Same concept.

Could it be because those that have the submissive trait have become agitated by those in power? Well, that's kinda hard to say. You can't be led around by wimps as you could with a rampaging psychopath hellbent on spreading his influence everywhere with brute force, so you're pretty much stuck with the lesser of two evils. The problem is, with a situation like that, who do you go with? The wimp because that person might have a carefully planned idea or the alpha dog because with extreme knockabout physicality, anything can be accomplished?
« Last Edit: January 29, 2010, 03:16:12 AM by BlisteredBlood »

Offline Samael

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Re: The Psychology of Power
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2010, 07:24:00 PM »
I think this has a lot of merit.
Both off and online, in projects and jobs I have participated, the guys in charge usually look out to promote people who work hard, but usually talk very little about wanting to get this or that. The more someone seems to be focused on the power, the less likely it seems that they will be capable of participating in a team based environment where they are not in absolute control, which usually spells big problems for every organization.

I felt that this approach was doing a lot of good. People who repeatedly asked for positions of respect/power/control were usually put on the "hell no" list, and more quiet, but no less productive people were kept in the eyes for promotions of any kind. It is a good system. It gets those who put their work first up, while keeping troublemakers out.