The current research explores the role of power in moral decision-making. Some work suggests that power increases utilitarianism; other work suggests power increases deontological judgments. Conversely, we propose that power can both increase and decrease both deontological and utilitarian decisions by building on two recent insights in moral psychology. First, we utilize the moral orientation scale to assess four thinking styles that jointly predict moral dilemma decisions. Second, we employ process dissociation to assess deontological and utilitarian judgments as orthogonal rather than opposite constructs. We conducted two preregistered confirmatory studies that replicated exploratory findings. In Study 1, power increased three moral thinking styles: integration, deliberation, and rule orientation. In Study 2, these decision-making styles simultaneously mediated the effects of power on utilitarian and deontological responses in opposing ways, leading to null effects overall. These results reconcile previous findings and demonstrate the complex yet systematic effects power has on moral decision-making.

A. Fleischmann, J. Lammers, P. Conway, and Adam Galinsky
Journal Article
Publication Date
Social Psychological and Personality Science

Full Citation

Fleischmann, A., J. Lammers, P. Conway, and Adam Galinsky
. “Paradoxical Effects of Power on Moral Thinking: Why Power Both Increases and Decreases Deontological and Utilitarian Moral Decisions.”
Social Psychological and Personality Science
, (January 01, 2019):