People In Power Make Better Liars

By Eve Tahmincioglu for MSNBC:

New York Gov. David Paterson is embroiled in a scandal over whether he used his power and influence to intimidate a woman pursuing a domestic violence case against one of his top aides. As a result, the governor said last month that he would not seek a second term, and his communications director quit earlier this month citing “integrity” issues.

Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, who went to prison after the spectacular collapse of the company, is appealing to the Supreme Court his 2006 conviction on 19 counts of fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying. His lawyers argue that he didn’t get a fair trial and that Skilling’s conduct, “even if wrongful in some way,” was not illegal because he was not looking out for his personal interests “apart from his normal compensation incentives.”

The issue of integrity is at the heart of the predicaments these powerful men find themselves in. An organization’s health often hinges on the trustworthiness of its leaders, ethics experts say. There’s old saying: power corrupts. And a new Columbia Business School study titled, “People with Power are Better Liars,” finds there may be some truth behind the cliché.

“People in power are able to lie better,” said Dana Carney, a management professor at Columbia Business School and one of the co-authors of the study. “It just doesn’t hurt them as much to do it.”

The effects of lying

For the average liar, she said, the act of lying elicits negative emotions, physiological stress and the fear of getting caught in a lie. As a result, she added, liars will often send out cues that they are lying by doing things like fidgeting in a chair or changing the rate of their speech.

But for the powerful, the impact is very different…

[continues at MSNBC]

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  • tonyviner

    All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree. – James Madison

  • ebwolf

    Interesting article. But the real question is whether power makes lying easier to those who attain it, or are naturally talented liars more likely to attain positions of power?

  • 5by5

    They're only “better” at it because we let them get away with it.

    Hold them accountable, and the lies start looking a whole lot less advantageous.

  • Hadrian999

    to become powerful you have to cast of common morality,
    once you have done that, whats a lie, is it any worse than destroying your competition,
    exerting your will over others, or crushing upstarts before they can become threats?
    regular people have problems lying because they are still slaves at heart.

  • Hadrian999

    to become powerful you have to cast of common morality,
    once you have done that, whats a lie, is it any worse than destroying your competition,
    exerting your will over others, or crushing upstarts before they can become threats?
    regular people have problems lying because they are still slaves at heart.

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