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Book description

Powerful societal leaders - such as politicians and Chief Executives - are frequently met with substantial distrust by the public. But why are people so suspicious of their leaders? One possibility is that 'power corrupts', and therefore people are right in their reservations. Indeed, there are numerous examples of unethical leadership, even at the highest level, as the Watergate and Enron scandals clearly illustrate. Another possibility is that people are unjustifiably paranoid, as underscored by some of the rather far-fetched conspiracy theories that are endorsed by a surprisingly large portion of citizens. Are societal power holders more likely than the average citizen to display unethical behaviour? How do people generally think and feel about politicians? How do paranoia and conspiracy beliefs about societal power holders originate? In this book, prominent scholars address these intriguing questions and illuminate the many facets of the relations between power, politics and paranoia.


'Van Prooijen and van Lange have done an excellent job by bringing together a range of exciting chapters illustrating the dramatic influence that the behaviors and power of our leaders can have on our perceptions, beliefs and expectations.'

David De Cremer - China Europe International Business School and London Business School

'Thoughtful insights and eye-opening data fill this terrific volume … a must-read book for anyone interested in political leadership, the effects of power and how modern citizens should regard their politicians.'

Roy F. Baumeister - Florida State University, author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

'Power, Politics, and Paranoia does the discipline a valuable service by bringing … these three research literatures together … This volume is an important illustration of how power and paranoia are not simple reflections of individuals’ psychological characteristics, but are informed by their position within groups and their group’s position within the larger society.'

Source: Social Justice Research

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