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?
题记：很久木有遇上值得分析的恋爱案例了，因为之前认识的人里失恋的人数骤然减少，倒苦水的状况也少了很多。遗憾的是，这不是因为幸福多了，而是我认识的人里面选择单身的人越来越多。。。直到最近，出现了一个在我看来很有教育意义的案例，这个案例的本质恰好反映了一些资质优良心气很高的女孩子在考虑的一个问题：找对象，是找个你狠喜欢的人，还是狠喜欢你的人？我的答案永远是“要平衡”。如果你狠喜欢对方，对方对你好像不冷不热的，你会感觉比较累，木有安全感，这是地球女生都知道的。地球女生不大清楚的是其相反的方向，如果对方喜欢你要命，你却对对方不冷不热，是该继续还是抽身呢？我知道有些人喜欢找”备胎”，对这我可以理解但不认同。我个人的理由是：首先这是个欠人情损人品的事情，第二就是倘若最坏的情形发生，你的”首选”落空了，你准备跟备胎携手的时候，有木有想过有一天备胎对你说“我累了”。我敢保证，被你的”备胎”分手比被你的”首选”分手还要让你痛不欲生。为毛捏？请看下面的具体案例。另外，我还有个悲观的观点，就是恋爱对象和兴趣一样是没有办法培养的，天生喜欢什么就是什么。。这句话是针对前一类人，那种看着不吝付出不求回报期待终有一天对方会被自己的痴心感动的人。。。真情确然可贵，但是大学学心理的时候，我记着一个基本知识就是Relationship=Passion（激情）+Intimacy（亲密）+Commitment（责任），感激不会升华成激情，怜悯不会促生亲密，而没有了这两样，Relationship怕是走不远，除非你和对方都是当代苏格拉底，或者都达观地认为No better alternative will ever exists in this world.