Power decreases the moral condemnation of disgust-inducing transgressions

Marlon Mooijman*, Maryam Kouchaki, Erica Beall, Jesse Graham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Across seven studies (five preregistered), we show that power reduces the degree to which people morally condemn transgressions that elicit disgust. This effect is explained by power reducing the subjective experience of disgust instead of the categorization of behaviors as disgusting. Power does not reliably reduce other negative emotions besides disgust and the impact of power on disgust and moral judgment is attenuated when participants are instructed to appraise impure behaviors as dangerous. These findings challenge the idea that power always increases the severity of moral judgments, shed light on the specific mechanisms by which power colors our judgments of moral right and wrong, and expand theorizing on the impact of power on emotions and moral judgment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-92
Number of pages14
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Disgust
  • Moral judgment
  • Power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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