We propose that power fundamentally changes why leaders punish and we develop a theoretical model that specifies how and why this occurs. Specifically, we argue that power increases the reliance on deterrence, but not just deserts, as a punishment motive and relate this to power fostering a distrustful mindset. We tested our model in 9 studies using different instantiations of power, different measurements and manipulations of distrust while measuring punishment motives and recommended punishments across a number of different situations. These 9 studies demonstrate that power fosters distrust and hereby increases both the reliance on deterrence as a punishment motive and the implementation of punishments aimed at deterrence (i.e., public punishments, public naming of rule breakers and punishments with a mandatory minimum). We discuss the practical implications for leaders, managers and policymakers and the theoretical implications for scholars interested in power, trust, and punishments.
- Just deserts
- Punishment motives
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science