The Between Power And Corruption

1679 WordsNov 30, 20157 Pages
Power Corrupts Absolutely Kyle Hayes 0923036 Paula Barata University Of Guelph PSYC*1000 Human history has bared witness to more tyrants than it could hope to enumerate. Whether it be despotic monarchs, autocratic dictators, or megalomaniac celebrities, countless figures in positions of power have perpetuated Lord Acton’s famous axiom, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” (Acton, 1906; Figgis & Laurence, 1906). However, is Acton’s aphorism scientifically valid, or is it purely anecdotal? Moreover, is it actually power that causes corruption or are the corrupt attracted to power? These are questions that the scientific community has long sought to answer. Acton’s doctrine has inspired a wide array of experimental studies, most of which utilize random manipulations of power in order to analyze how it alters behaviour. The limiting factor in these procedures is the inability to control extraneous variables such as pre-existing inclinations to corrupt behaviour. In order to determine causation rather than just correlation between power and corruption, researchers realized that in addition to manipulating power exogenously they needed to conduct tests that gauged inclinations to corrupt behaviour or lack there-of. Many studies have also measured the hormone profiles of participants to see if these profiles had any significant impact on results. Once these base assessments were analyzed, researchers were able to recognize which participants had

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