A new study has looked into why powerful people speak highly of morals and values without applying them in their own dealings. This was done by Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
The research titled "Power Increases Hypocrisy: Moralizing in Reasoning, Immunity and Behavior," found that powerful people are very strict in the moral judgement of others but do not follow the same ideology in their own behavior.
Researchers assigned high-power and low-power positions to a group of volunteers - some given the role of prime minister and others civil servant - to come up with their findings.
The study was done by Joris Lammers and Diederik A. Stapel of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, and by Adam Galinsky of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.alinsky, the Morris and Alice Kaplan Professor of Ethics and Decision in Management at the Kellogg School, said: "This research is especially relevant to the biggest scandals of 2009, as we look back on how private behavior often contradicted the public stance of particular individuals in power.
"For instance, we saw some politicians use public funds for private benefits while calling for smaller government, or have extramarital affairs while advocating family values. Similarly, we witnessed CEOs of major financial institutions accepting executive bonuses while simultaneously asking for government bailout money on behalf of their companies.
"According to our research, power and influence can cause a severe disconnect between public judgment and private behavior, and as a result, the powerful are stricter in their judgment of others while being more lenient toward their own actions."
Galinsky added: "Ultimately, patterns of hypocrisy and hypercrisy perpetuate social inequality. The powerful impose rules and restraints on others while disregarding these restraints for themselves, whereas the powerless collaborate in reproducing social inequality because they don't feel the same entitlement."
The research will be published in Psychological Science.