Zeitschrift Organisations Entwicklung
Stand: Oktober 2018

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ZOE vom 15.10.2018, Heft 04, Seite 14 - 18, ZOE1282753
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The Paradox of Power

When Power leads to Empathy Deficits

Prof. Dacher Keltner

Prof. Dacher Keltner

Professor of Psychologiy, University of California, Berkeley. Kontakt: keltner@berkeley.edu

Berkeley-professor Dacher Keltner has developed a theory of power that aims to present an integrative account of the effects of power on human behaviour, suggesting that the acquisition of power has a disinhibiting effect regarding the social consequences of exercising it.

Prof. Dacher Keltner

ZOE: Prof. Keltner, you refer to power as a paradox phenomenon. Could you briefly explain what you mean by that?

Keltner: The question is: Once you have power, what does it do to you? How does it influence your thoughts and your motions and your actions? We rise in organizations and communities and disciplines and families through power. We have power by social intelligence, by empathy, by reaching out, by curiosity, by boldness. And then once you get power (laughs) you’ll lose all of these skills. Power leads to empathy deficits. A good example is American politics these days, which shows unethical, impulsive, inappropriate behavior. That’s the paradox of power.

ZOE: Power is often negatively attributed. But as you put it, it’s firstly the ability to have influence over something or someone, which does not necessarily have to be a bad thing?

Keltner: Let’s say you’re a manager or a leader in an organization, the first thing that you really have to

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