In a 2014 study, three American neurologists used a transcranial magnetic stimulation machine to test the cognitive functioning of powerful and less powerful people.
They discovered that a sense of power disrupts what is known as mirroring, a mental process that plays a key role in empathy.
Ordinarily, people mirror all the time. Someone else laughs, you laugh. Someone yawns, so do you.
But powerful individuals mirror much less. It’s like they no longer feel connected to their fellow human beings. As if they’ve come unplugged.
If powerful people feel less connected to others, is it any wonder they also tend to be more cynical? One of the effects of power is it makes people see others in a negative light.
If you’re powerful you’re more likely to think most people are lazy and unreliable. That other people need to be supervised and monitored, managed and regulated, censored and told what to do.
And because power makes you feel superior to other people, you’ll unquestionably believe all this monitoring should be entrusted to you.
And to you alone.