Power and morality

Joris Lammers*, Adam D. Galinsky, David Dubois, Derek Rucker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


This review synthesizes research on power and morality. Although power is typically viewed as undermining the roots of moral behavior, this paper proposes power can either morally corrupt or morally elevate individuals depending on two crucial factors. First, power can trigger behavioral disinhibition. As a consequence, power fosters corruption by disinhibiting people's immoral desires, but can also encourage ethical behavior by amplifying moral impulses. Second, power leads people to focus more on their self, relative to others. Thus, those with power are more likely to engage in self-beneficial behavior, but those who lack power are more prone to engage in other-beneficial unethical behavior. Overall, we offer predictions as to when and why power will yield more or less moral behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-19
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychology
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Power and morality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this