When reading the morning paper, there are a lot of things to get indignant about. How could that politician think that he could get away with taking money from a lobbyist in exchange for a vote? How could the business executive gleefully take part in insider trading, knowing that company employees would be drained of their retirement savings? How could either of them have an affair with a dead-eyed 19-year-old club kid and think no one would find out?
It's easy enough to see why some people think the rules don't apply to them – money and power. Indeed, you probably can imagine the corrupt politician and slick-as-oil CEO getting away with both real crime and a general lack of morality. But what drives people to behavior that allows them to throw empathy out the window?
Let's remember that most humans aren't endlessly empathetic. We might be horrified by the toll of an earthquake, for example, but never contribute time – or even money – to help the victims. Does that indicate a cold, cruel nature? Does that make us ... psychopaths?
So you're not a psychopath, but what about the office manager who takes credit for work she didn't do? Or the stranger who angrily cuts a long line of people waiting to speak to a customer service representative? Are these people just having a crappy day/generally cranky, or are there truly people in the world who believe that rules don't apply to them?
We'll start with the best group of all – narcissists! – to see if those folks who love themselves a little too much might be the most at risk for caring about no one else.