Sitting behind a big desk might make you a jerk
The bigger the desk, the bigger the ego, say scientists
Power (or at least the illusion of power) corrupts, says science.
Power (or at least the illusion of power) corrupts, says science. Think Stock

Are you stretching your feet out on your big, expensive desk right now, looking out at your massive SUV sitting in the parking lot? If you are, science says you might be a jerk.

More specifically, large, lavish environments could lead you to feel more powerful, making you more likely to engage in dishonest behavior, according to a study published in Psychological Science.

Psychologists from Columbia University set out to determine how people reacted to the physical spaces around them. When given a test, those sitting behind big, expensive-looking desks cheated more often than those who were not.

That's because, as study author Andy Yap explains, we are more affected by our surroundings than we realize. When you have room to stretch out and assert yourself, you feel like a big-shot. That could lead to questionable behavior.

"When you feel more powerful, you are more willing to take risks," Yap tells The Denver Post. "If they hang a carrot in front you, you might do whatever it takes to get that carrot, even if it's unethical."

That same principle applies to cars as well. The researchers found that people in a driving simulation were more likely to pull a hit-and-run if they were sitting in a large fancy seat.

They also conducted a field study in New York City to find what Larry David might call "pig parkers." The results? Cars with bigger seats were more likely to be parked illegally.

Past research has also suggested that those kicking back in their huge offices might be more physically attractive than those of us stuck in tiny cubicles. None of these studies have investigated whether or not life is fair.

Keith Wagstaff is a staff writer at covering politics and current events. He has previously written for such publications as TIME, Details, VICE, and the Village Voice.


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