Why is it that corrupt people always find themselves in positions of power? Perhaps the answer to this is the exact opposite. Maybe power itself corrupts people. Psychologists have asked this question many times before. Manipulation is also a strong tactic. These are often people who always know the right thing to say. This is how they convince people to put them in these positions. But talk only goes so far. Is it power itself that corrupts or is it the perfect string of words that puts these corrupt people into power?
Does power corrupt? Psychologists have asked this many times. They have since given it the name “the power paradox”. Psychologists state that the more power an individual has the more they may cater to their own desires and the less they see others perspectives (Psychology Today). Power also has it’s own advantages, such as higher optimism and the ability to step out of one’s comfort zone. But this has it’s disadvantages as well. This newfound confidence can lead to more risky behavior. They take bigger risks with the potential of getting bigger rewards. Research has also shown that the more power one has the less empathy they have. “In fact, MRI studies of the brain indicate that people who feel powerful show far less motor resonance, which allows you to imagine things from the perspective of others, than the relatively powerless.” (Business Insider). Power has a kind of dehumanizing effect on people. Berkeley researchers have also studied this effect. “In one of the Berkeley studies, drivers of high-status cars like Mercedes and BMWs cut off other drivers 30% of the time, compared to only 7% for the lowest-status cars. They also failed to yield to pedestrians almost half the time.”. It’s not quite a dislike for others rather than an indifference.
But is it power that corrupts? Or is it the power that reveals one’s true self. It is no question that manipulation is often a tactic used in voting people into power. Leaders often use emotion in this manipulation. Emotion is very powerful and affects our mindset. By getting to one’s emotions, swaying a person’s entire view may not be so hard in some cases. This can be seen in the case of politicians who can use current fears of the people or strong topics to emit emotions from their listeners. With these emotions out in the open, manipulation comes easier. Leaders use what is important to us to sway us. Manipulators can often come off as charming or bold, this can be influential on a person’s opinion of them.
So, does power corrupt a person, or reveal their true intentions. The answer is maybe a bit of both. But I would say regardless of how it may happen we can see most leaders have some sort of corruption.