According to the Science Daily article “For example, in one experiment the ‘powerful’ participants condemned the cheating of others while cheating more themselves.”
The researchers found that in all of the cases studied the people playing roles of power and authority showed “significant” moral hypocrisy by judging others much more strongly in such acts as “speeding, dodging taxes and keeping a stolen bike” while finding it ok for themselves to do the very same acts. [Science Daily]
Dr. Galinsky stated, "According to our research, power and influence can cause a severe disconnect between public judgment and private behavior, and as a result, the powerful are stricter in their judgment of others while being more lenient toward their own actions.” [Science Daily]
However, in one experiment the research team found that people who are in positions of power but don’t feel they should be in such powerful positions actually were much more moralistic than those in low-power positions.
That is, they held themselves to a much higher standard than what they would normally do without such authority and power.
The researchers called such behavior “hypercrisy,” or the tendency to be more difficult on oneself when in a position of power than normally would be when in a low-power position.
Galinsky concluded, "Ultimately, patterns of hypocrisy and hypercrisy perpetuate social inequality. The powerful impose rules and restraints on others while disregarding these restraints for themselves, whereas the powerless collaborate in reproducing social inequality because they don't feel the same entitlement.” [Science Daily]
Interesting comments from readers are found in the 12-30-2009 Discovery News article “Why the Powerful Lie, Cheat and Steal.”