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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Infidelity: Unto power do us part

(Photo by Michel wal)
Just one day before the world paused to honor a royal “unto death do us part,” the Association for Psychological Science (APS) published some pertinent information.

Eyebrow-raising results of a study on infidelity were included in the April 28, 2011 issue of the APA’s journal, Psychological Science.  According to Time Healthland, researcher Joris Lammers of Tilburg University in the Netherlands analyzed 1,561 responses to an online anonymous survey concerning the relationship between confidence, power, and infidelity.  The respondents, readers of a Dutch business magazine, were from various levels within the workplace hierarchy – from the six percent that were top-level executives to the 58% at the lowest rung of the corporate ladder.

The crucial link between power and infidelity is identified by Lammers as “confidence.”  Lammers goes on to explain that decreased power is associated with a sense of “threat and danger,” whereas increased power is associated with a “disinhibited sense that you can get what you want and should take risks to get it.”  It is in this sense that power corrupts – not only regarding infidelity, but also regarding other moral issues.  According to this study, power also trumps gender when it comes to infidelity.  Allegedly, the reason why more men than women cheat is because more men than women wield power.

However, this study might actually yield more questions than answers.  For example, is “confidence” really just a matter of disinhibition, or is it a quality in its own right?  The roots of the English word “confidence” are the Latin terms con (“with, together”) and fido (“trust, rely upon”). “Confidence” can therefore be a reliance upon - and a coming together with – something greater than one’s own desires.  Buddha conducted a study of his own, and discovered quite experientially that being led by desire (either through sensualism or asceticism) does not bring lasting peace or joy.  He therefore sought that which was more trustworthy.

The ultimate question then becomes:  What is worth developing confidence in?  For the royals - and for us all - even the slightest glance at history will show that the mere chasing of desires often ends in disaster.  It
therefore seems wise to temper power with that which never corrupts.


Copyright April 30, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

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