The Rich Get Dumber

By Julia ,  Newser User
Posted Apr 4, 2007 12:24 PM CDT
A hot-air balloon shaped like a human brain is assembled in Vermillion, South Dakota, and will fly over the annual convention for the high-IQ group Mensa in Addison, Texas.    (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – The more powerful you become, the more oblivious you get, Richard Conniff argues in today's Times, as he takes a gander at explaining a recent spate of high-profile celebrity mishaps ($1.5 million totalled Ferrari, anyone?). Connif points to research at Berkeley that suggests power brings "disinhibition"—more attention to your own rewards, and less on what's going on around you.

The researchers assigned a power structure to a group of volunteers, offered them a plate of cookies, and then watched as the volunteers with power consistently grabbed more than their share. Conniff makes it simple: "Without power, people tend to play it safe. Given power, even you and I would soon end up living large and acting like idiots."