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Power Corrupts, but Control Does Not: What Stands Behind the Effects of Holding High Positions

Cislak, Aleksandra, Cichocka, Aleksandra, Wojcik, Adrian, Frankowska, Natalia (2018) Power Corrupts, but Control Does Not: What Stands Behind the Effects of Holding High Positions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44 (6). pp. 944-957. ISSN 0146-1672. (doi:10.1177/0146167218757456) (KAR id:65728)


People seek high positions not to gain influence over others but to satisfy their need for personal control. Personal control tends to have positive interpersonal consequences. If this is the case, does power indeed corrupt? We argue that holding a high position is associated both with perceptions of power (influence over others) and personal control (influence over one’s life). Three studies showed that these two aspects might have opposite consequences: Power over others positively predicted aggressiveness (Study 1, N = 793) and exploitativeness (Study 2, N = 445), whereas personal control predicted these outcomes negatively. In Study 3 (N = 557), conducted among employees at various organizational positions, the effects of holding a high position on exploitativeness and aggressiveness were differentially mediated by power over others and personal control. We discuss these findings in light of contradicting evidence on the corruptive effects of power.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/0146167218757456
Uncontrolled keywords: social power, personal control, aggression, exploitativeness, anti-social tendencies
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Aleksandra Cichocka
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2018 17:22 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:52 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Cichocka, Aleksandra.

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