It appears that the old axiom is true – power corrupts. And, the more deserving the powerful person feels to be in their position – the more deserving they feel to live by different rules than everyone else.

They argue, therefore, that people with power that they think is justified break rules not only because they can get away with it, but also because they feel at some intuitive level that they are entitled to take what they want. This sense of entitlement is crucial to understanding why people misbehave in high office. In its absence, abuses will be less likely. The word “privilege” translates as “private law”. If Dr Lammers and Dr Galinsky are right, the sense which some powerful people seem to have that different rules apply to them is not just a convenient smoke screen. They genuinely believe it.

via The psychology of power: Absolutely | The Economist.

This is a great article. I have an additional theory that people have a balance of good/ bad that their brains try to balance. In other words, when someone does something good (or, they they personally feel is good) – then they feel like they deserve to get away with extra benefits at someone else’s expense. For example, I think that a crooked politician often feels like they deserve extra benefits and power (even if it costs a lot of money, is immoral, or wasteful) if they feel like they passed some legislation that that “helped” a lot of people. In their minds, having an affair or a personal boondoggle benefitting them is not really bad because they passed a budget-busting multi-million dollar spending package that helped a million people. Our legislators at some point stop looking at themselves as representatives and start looking at themselves as valiant leaders who bend a few rules, but make lives better for their constituents. In their minds they deserve to be above the rules because on balance they created so much good in the world – and on balance – they are impacting the wold to the positive (in their minds).