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  • [How power makes people selfish]

  • So there are regions of the frontal lobes that are now being called "the empathy network".

  • And those regions of the brain do a lot of things, but one of the things that they do is they kinda help us detect other people's pain.

  • When you damage the empathy networks of your brain, which some people do, they become really impulsive.

  • And you can have people who were really good citizens of the world, right?

  • And if they have this head trauma, and little chunks of the frontal lobes are gone, they'll start swearing suddenly, they'll start yelling at their kids, they feel disconnected.

  • In the neuroscience literature they call this "acquired sociopathy."

  • Through brain trauma you become a sociopath, and our lab studies find if you give people a little bit of power they kind of look like those brain trauma patients, right?

  • So we find like, if I feel powerful, I flirt inappropriately, I am more likely at work to swear and act in a rude fashion, I'm more likely to gamble.

  • It makes you impulsive.

  • When you feel powerful you kind of lose touch with other people.

  • You stop attending carefully to what other people think.

  • In our lab, it's come to be known as the "Cookie Monster" study.

  • We brought three people to the lab; we pointed to one person and said, "you're in charge, right?"

  • So that person kind of felt powerful.

  • And then they had to do this really boring task of, like, write policy for the university.

  • And they're getting kinda bored.

  • We bring a plate of chocolate chip cookies.

  • Everybody takes one cookie.

  • All groups always leave one cookie on the plate because you don't want to be that person that takes the last cookie.

  • So there's that fourth cookie and we find higher-powered people, they reach out and take it.

  • And then my grad student, Dan Ward at the time, he came to me and he was like, "I think people are eating differently when they have power."

  • "And lo and behold, our high-powered person is more likely to eat with their mouth open, lips-smacking, crumbs literally like falling onto their sweaters, you know? It's ridiculous!"

[How power makes people selfish]

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