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Does power corrupt? Scholars have examined this causality with mixed results. This study uses the World Value Survey (WVS) database to examine the power-corruption link across cultures and time. The WVS inquires respondents’ justification for moral domains of purity/sanctity, authority/respect, and fairness/reciprocity. Power is operationalized as belonging to the upper-class. The study provides evidence that the upper-class respondents are significantly more justifying of breaking moral rules across world regions. But results also indicate that morality of upper classes is diverging with time from the rest of the population, narrowing in some countries, and widening in others. A discussion on the implications of these findings and the need to monitor the morality of those in power is provided.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.