Why do so many powerful men behave like Harvey Weinstein? This psychologist has some theories.
Dacher Keltner is a professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. (Courtesy Dacher Keltner)
Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is not an anomaly. He is just another man who attained great power. And as Lord Acton famously said, power corrupts. In Weinstein’s case, that corruption took the form of preying on women. Power also distorts and blinds some who hold it to the real feelings of those around them.
So goes the argument put forward in the latest online edition of the Harvard Business Review, the nation’s premier journal of corporate wisdom and theory. In an essay titled “Sex, Power and the Systems That Enable Men Like Harvey Weinstein,” psychologist Dacher Keltner explains:
Powerful men, studies show, overestimate the sexual interest of others and erroneously believe that the women around them are more attracted to them than is actually the case. Powerful men also sexualize their work, looking for opportunities for sexual trysts and affairs, and along the way leer inappropriately, stand too close, and touch for too long on a daily basis, thus crossing the lines of decorum — and worse.
At a recent quarter earnings call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said “These questions are so dry. They’re killing me.”
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