Our need for security and certainty. Psychologists who study people’s belief systems have found that people have a need for consistency—to keep their beliefs and attitudes balanced. Our drive for predictability means we struggle in situations where things are disrupted and we do not feel “in charge” of ourselves or of the events around us. It is in contexts like these that followers are susceptible to the lure of unethical leaders who have power. For example, imagine a person with a brain tumor who has received a serious diagnosis that has low survival statistics. In such a situation, most people trust their doctor and the advice of professionals at their local cancer center. But there are some people who feel so uncertain and insecure that they abandon traditional medicine and visit uncertified cancer centers outside the country that promise quick cures. All they want is someone to give them the security and certainty they believe is lacking in their situation. In difficult, trying times, it is human nature to look to “know-it-all” leaders for direction and support.
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