【OB研究报告】How Power Corrupts: 权力为何总是带来腐败?

配乐:Deep Structure from UNFAIR O.S.T.

新闻里时常充斥着掌权者的丑行——这种现象令人沮丧,却在预料之中,有地位的人总是忍不住以权谋私。他们对下属大喊大叫、与秘书私通、强暴酒店服务员,甚至跟保姆上床。当然,问题是这种糟糕行为的动机是什么?为什么权力总是带来腐败?

心理学家将这种现象称为“权力的双刃剑”。一旦真正获得权力,那些最初帮助领导者爬上高位的个性特征就消失了。他们不再礼貌、诚实、友好,而是冲动、轻率、粗鲁。根据心理学家的说法,权威最主要的问题在于,它会让我们更难对别人的感情与忧虑感同身受。例如,几项研究发现,身居高位的人更容易依靠刻板印象和一般性的归纳来评判他人。他们与人眼神接触的时间也更短,至少在与没有权力的人交谈时是这样。

最近西北大学的心理学家亚当•盖林斯基(Adam Galinsky)就“权力影响决策过程”的问题做了个实验。盖林斯基和同事要求参与者描述自己拥有很大权力的经历,或者自己感觉完全没有权力的经历。之后,心理学家要求参与者在前额上画个“E”字。之前想过拥有权力的人更有可能把这个E字写反,至少是在有其他人观看的情况下。盖林斯基和同事们认为这种效应是由权力带来的目光短浅引发的,它让人更难从其他人的角度来想象世界。我们把E字写反了,是因为我们不在乎他人的视角。我们才不管下属们是怎么想的呢。

但这里还有个圈套,我们仍旧认为我们在乎别人,至少抽象感觉是这样。这是因为权力能将我们迅速变为伪君子。在2009年的一项研究中,盖林斯基要求参与者想象拥有权力或没有权力的情景。之后,学生们分为两组。第一组被要求对谎报出差开销这种行为的道德过失程度打分,分数从1到9。第二组学生被要求参加一个掷骰子游戏,游戏结果决定了参与者能获得的彩票数量,掷骰子得到的点数越高,得到的彩票就越多。

“高权力组”的参与者认为谎报出差开销的行为是对上级的严重冒犯。然而,掷骰子游戏的结果却与之矛盾。在实验中,高权力组所报告的结果在统计上是不可能的,骰子的平均点数比预期中的随机结果要高20%。(而“无权力组”则相反,骰子点数结果只是稍微高一点。)这强烈暗示着参与者们谎报了得分,通过篡改点数来多拿几张彩票。

尽管人们总是知道什么是对的,至少作弊是不对的,但权力感会让人更容易用理性给自己的道德过失找借口。例如,当心理学家问参与者(包括高权力组和无权力组)如何评价一个为了准时赴约而超速开车的人,高权力组的人一致认为别人违反规定比自己违反规定更糟糕。换句话说,过高的优越感会让人觉得只有自己有理由超速开车(因为他们是重要的人,要做重要的事),但其他所有人却应该乖乖地遵守交通规则。

但也许这些巧妙的实验结果并不能说服你,因为它们大部分是本科生的研究结果。也许你觉得实验模式里充满诡计。我最喜欢的有关权力腐败的研究来自斯坦福大学商学院的心理学家黛博拉•格林菲尔德(Deborah Gruenfeld)。她感兴趣的是权力如何改变我们的推理过程。经过对美国最高法院在1953年到1993年1000余项判决的分析,格林菲尔德发现,法官在法庭中的权力越大,或者法官们联合起来能够占到大多数时,他们写下的观点就更简单、更不注意细节。他们会考虑更少的角度和更少的可能性。当然,坏消息是大多数人的决定正在成为这个国家的法律。

更宏观的教训如傅科(Foucault)所说:权力能深深影响我们的思维方式。当我们爬上地位的阶梯时,内心的观点就开始扭曲,而对他人天生的同情也消失了。我们不再担忧自己行为的后果,只是一意孤行。我们认为自己的一切都是实至名归,而别人绝不敢抵抗。他们难道不知道我是谁吗?

Source: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/05/how-power-corrupts/

The news abounds with stories of powerful men behaving badly. It’s a depressing yet predictable spectacle — those in positions of power can’t help but help themselves to the help. They scream at underlings and have sex with the secretaries; they assault hotel maids (or at least are accused of such) and sleep with the nanny. The question, of course, is what motivates this awful behavior? Why does power corrupt?

Psychologists refer to this as the paradox of power. The very traits that helped leaders accumulate control in the first place all but disappear once they rise to power. Instead of being polite, honest and outgoing, they become impulsive, reckless and rude. According to psychologists, one of the main problems with authority is that it makes us less sympathetic to the concerns and emotions of others. For instance, several studies have found that people in positions of authority are more likely to rely on stereotypes and generalizations when judging other people. They also spend much less time making eye contact, at least when a person without power is talking.

Consider a recent experiment led by Adam Galinsky, a psychologist at Northwestern University. Galinsky and colleagues began by asking subjects to either describe an experience in which they had lots of power or a time when they felt utterly powerless. Then the psychologists asked the subjects to draw the letter E on their foreheads. Those primed with feelings of power were much more likely to draw the letter backwards, at least when seen by another person. Galinsky et al. argue that this effect is triggered by the myopia of power, which makes it much harder to imagine the world from the perspective of someone else. We draw the letter backwards because we don’t care about the viewpoint of others. We don’t give a shit what the maid thinks.

But here’s the catch: We still think we do care, at least in the abstract. That’s because power quickly turns us into hypocrites. In a 2009 study, Galinsky asked subjects to think about either an experience of power or powerlessness. The students were then divided into two groups. The first group was told to rate, on a nine-point scale, the moral seriousness of misreporting travel expenses at work. The second group was asked to participate in a game of dice, in which the results of the dice determined the number of lottery tickets each student received. A higher roll led to more tickets.

Participants in the high-power group considered the misreporting of travel expenses to be a significantly worse offense. However, the game of dice produced a completely contradictory result. In this instance, people in the high-power group reported, on average, a statistically improbable result, with an average dice score that was 20 percent above that expected by random chance. (The powerless group, in contrast, reported only slightly elevated dice results.) This strongly suggests that they were lying about their actual scores, fudging the numbers to get a few extra tickets.

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.

But perhaps you’re not convinced by these clever lab experiments performed mostly on undergrads. Perhaps you think the paradigms smack of artifice. One of my favorite studies of power corrupting comes from Deborah Gruenfeld, a psychologist at the Stanford Business School. She was interested in how positions of power altered our reasoning process. After analyzing more than 1,000 decisions handed down by the United States Supreme Court between 1953 and 1993, Gruenfeld found that, as justices gained power on the court, or became part of a majority coalition, their written opinions tended to become less complex and nuanced. They considered fewer perspectives and possible outcomes. The bad news, of course, is that the opinions written from the majority position are what actually become the law of the land.

The larger lesson is that Foucault had a point: The dynamics of power can profoundly influence how we think. When we climb the ladder of status, our inner arguments get warped and our natural sympathy for others is vanquished. Instead of fretting about the effects of our actions, we just go ahead and act. We deserve what we want. And how dare they resist. Don’t they know who we are?

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