"Is Power so Bad? Power Lowers Moral Reasoning Level, but Not When Construed As Responsibility"

Giurge, L M, van Dijke, M, Zheng, X and De Cremer, D (2017) "Is Power so Bad? Power Lowers Moral Reasoning Level, but Not When Construed As Responsibility". [Conference proceeding]


Moral reasoning is usually considered a rational and conscious process that over relatively long periods of time may progress to higher (i.e., more complex) levels. Drawing from theorizing on power and situated cognition, we hypothesized and found in two laboratory studies (Study 1 and 2) that the experience of high power (as opposed to low power and a control condition), as an immediate contextual influence lowers individuals’ moral reasoning level. We further hypothesized and showed in a third laboratory study (Study 3) that the effect of power in lowering moral reasoning levels is weaker when the experience of high power is construed in terms of responsibility, rather than opportunity. Taken together, these studies challenge a widely held assumption that moral reasoning is a long-term developmental process that is relatively immune to immediate contextual influences. Furthermore, they address the question of whether power - a chief component of any leadership or managerial role - corrupts from a different theoretical angle than prior work has done, namely by focusing on the role of a seemingly conscious and deliberative process.

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Item Type: Conference proceeding
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2020 09:52
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2021 08:33
URI: https://lbsresearch.london.edu/id/eprint/1332

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