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How Power Corrupts the Mind

Psychology, power, work

While at Columbia University, Andy J. Yap set up a simple experiment. After manipulating his subjects into powerful or weak states (in the lab, psychologists are the most powerful ones of all), Yap asked them to guess the height and weight of others both in person and from photographs.

“When people feel powerful or feel powerless, it influences their perception of others,” said Yap, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at MIT. According to their understanding, we judge the power of others relative to our own: When we feel powerful, others appear less so –and powerlessness and smallness often go together in our minds.

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