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Does power corrupt or enable? When and why power facilitates self-interested behavior.
J Appl Psychol. 2012 May; 97(3):681-9.JA

Abstract

Does power corrupt a moral identity, or does it enable a moral identity to emerge? Drawing from the power literature, we propose that the psychological experience of power, although often associated with promoting self-interest, is associated with greater self-interest only in the presence of a weak moral identity. Furthermore, we propose that the psychological experience of power is associated with less self-interest in the presence of a strong moral identity. Across a field survey of working adults and in a lab experiment, individuals with a strong moral identity were less likely to act in self-interest, yet individuals with a weak moral identity were more likely to act in self-interest, when subjectively experiencing power. Finally, we predict and demonstrate an explanatory mechanism behind this effect: The psychological experience of power enhances moral awareness among those with a strong moral identity, yet decreases the moral awareness among those with a weak moral identity. In turn, individuals' moral awareness affects how they behave in relation to their self-interest.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6, Canada. katy.decelles@rotman.utoronto.caNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Comparative Study
Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

22250668

Citation

DeCelles, Katherine A., et al. "Does Power Corrupt or Enable? when and Why Power Facilitates Self-interested Behavior." The Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 97, no. 3, 2012, pp. 681-9.
DeCelles KA, DeRue DS, Margolis JD, et al. Does power corrupt or enable? When and why power facilitates self-interested behavior. J Appl Psychol. 2012;97(3):681-9.
DeCelles, K. A., DeRue, D. S., Margolis, J. D., & Ceranic, T. L. (2012). Does power corrupt or enable? When and why power facilitates self-interested behavior. The Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(3), 681-9. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0026811
DeCelles KA, et al. Does Power Corrupt or Enable? when and Why Power Facilitates Self-interested Behavior. J Appl Psychol. 2012;97(3):681-9. PubMed PMID: 22250668.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Does power corrupt or enable? When and why power facilitates self-interested behavior. AU - DeCelles,Katherine A, AU - DeRue,D Scott, AU - Margolis,Joshua D, AU - Ceranic,Tara L, Y1 - 2012/01/16/ PY - 2012/1/19/entrez PY - 2012/1/19/pubmed PY - 2012/10/5/medline SP - 681 EP - 9 JF - The Journal of applied psychology JO - J Appl Psychol VL - 97 IS - 3 N2 - Does power corrupt a moral identity, or does it enable a moral identity to emerge? Drawing from the power literature, we propose that the psychological experience of power, although often associated with promoting self-interest, is associated with greater self-interest only in the presence of a weak moral identity. Furthermore, we propose that the psychological experience of power is associated with less self-interest in the presence of a strong moral identity. Across a field survey of working adults and in a lab experiment, individuals with a strong moral identity were less likely to act in self-interest, yet individuals with a weak moral identity were more likely to act in self-interest, when subjectively experiencing power. Finally, we predict and demonstrate an explanatory mechanism behind this effect: The psychological experience of power enhances moral awareness among those with a strong moral identity, yet decreases the moral awareness among those with a weak moral identity. In turn, individuals' moral awareness affects how they behave in relation to their self-interest. SN - 1939-1854 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/22250668/Does_power_corrupt_or_enable_When_and_why_power_facilitates_self_interested_behavior_ L2 - http://content.apa.org/journals/apl/97/3/681 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -