If your boss is a beast, maybe it’s not their fault. Maybe they’ve suffered what is the equivalent of trauma to their frontal cortex and that is causing them to behave like a beast.

The results of a new study suggest that not only does power corrupt, it wreaks havoc on your table manners, causing you to take the last cookie, chew with your mouth open, and spill cookie crumbs all over yourself.

Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, conducted an experiment in which groups of three people were given tasks while sitting around a table together, with one person assigned the position of group leader. At some point, the group was given a plate of four cookies. Keltner found that not only was the assigned leader the most likely to take the last cookie, that individual was also likely to display bad table manners.

Keltner explains in the video below that the change is believed to be connected to changes in the frontal lobe, which is thought to be associated with empathy. Giving a person power, he says, has a similar effect to causing trauma to this area.

“There are regions of frontal lobes that are now being called the empathy network… they kind of help us detect other people’s pain,” Keltner explains. “When you damage the empathy networks of your brain, which some people do, they become really impulsive.

“Through brain trauma, you become a sociopath. Our lab studies find if you give people a little bit of power, they look kind of like those brain trauma patients,” he says. “If I feel powerful I flirt inappropriately, I’m more likely at work to swear and to act in a rude fashion, I’m more likely to gamble. It makes you impulsive.”

The study he talks about here has come to be known as the “Cookie Monster study.”

Take a look.

(Via Huffington Post)