“Power provides a reason to doubt the purity of others’ favors, creating a cynical perspective on others’ generosity that undermines relationships.”
— Ena Inesi, Deb Gruenfeld and Adam Galinsky, on how power can reduce trust in others.
When people are powerful, they argue, it makes others’ seemingly trustworthy behaviour seem ambiguous. Are others acting benevolently because they are trustworthy, or are they just trying to toady the powerful in the hopes of capturing some of their power?
Interestingly, this cynicism also had the effect of dulling thankfulness.
When people felt powerful, they thought others’ helpful behaviour was actually self-interested — and as a result, they felt less thankful for the help. So, where does entitlement, the idea that you owe no gratitude for that which you receive, come from? Based on this research, one answer is that it stems from feeling powerful.