Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Psychology of power and the power of tipping

In Discovery News on the psychology of rich people plus a financial crime story, I embedded a video that described how being rich or even role-playing being rich made one less ethical, empathetic, and generous.  Now, Chris Benderev of NPR describes how having power operates the same way in When Power Goes To Your Head, It May Shut Out Your Heart
Even the smallest dose of power can change a person. You've probably seen it. Someone gets a promotion or a bit of fame and then, suddenly, they're a little less friendly to the people beneath them.

So here's a question that may seem too simple: Why?

If you ask a psychologist, he or she may tell you that the powerful are simply too busy. They don't have the time to fully attend to their less powerful counterparts.

But if you ask Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, he might give you another explanation: Power fundamentally changes how the brain operates.
So, someone who is both rich and powerful is doubly likely to lack empathy.  Lovely.

Speaking of power and empathy, it turns out that an act that is usually regarded as an act of generosity is also an expression of power.  Discovery News examines the combination of motivations in What Kind of Tipper Are You?

Tipping can be a touchy topic. And it's a great power we wield when eating out: give us good service, or get a bad tip. Laci explains how this power trip works and the psychology behind tipping.
Our daughter worked her way through high school and college as a waitress.  Because of empathy for her situation, my wife and I are generous tippers.

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