The Limits of Legitimacy: Morality as a Constraint on Deference to Authority

31 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2009 Last revised: 4 Nov 2009

See all articles by Linda J. Skitka

Linda J. Skitka

University of Illinois at Chicago

Christopher W. Bauman

University of California, Irvine

Brad Lytle

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: June 15, 2009

Abstract

Various versions of legitimacy theory predict that a duty and obligation to obey legitimate authorities generally trumps people’s personal moral values. However, most research has assumed rather than measured the degree to which people have a moral stake in the situations studied. This study tested compliance with and reactions to legitimate authorities in the context of a natural experiment that tracked public opinion before and after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case that challenged state’s rights to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Results indicated that citizens’ degree of moral conviction about the issue of physician-assisted suicide predicted post-ruling perceptions of outcome fairness, decision acceptance, and changes in perceptions the Court’s legitimacy from pre- to post-ruling. Other results revealed that the effects of religiosity independently predicted outcome fairness and decision acceptance, but not perceptions of post-ruling legitimacy.

Suggested Citation

Skitka, Linda J. and Bauman, Christopher W. and Lytle, Brad, The Limits of Legitimacy: Morality as a Constraint on Deference to Authority (June 15, 2009). 22nd Annual IACM Conference, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1493520 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1493520

Linda J. Skitka (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1200 W Harrison St
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

Christopher W. Bauman

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Paul Merage School of Business
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://merage.uci.edu/research-faculty/faculty-directory/Christopher-Bauman.html

Brad Lytle

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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