45 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2014
Date Written: January 31, 2014
We use an experiment to show that conformity to a cue by an authority, due to social image utility towards the authority, is a powerful motivating mechanism. We do this in an experiment where obedience implies the destruction of half of the earnings of another subject at a cost to one’s own earnings. When a constant pressure to obey is applied to engage in destruction, the destruction rate is over 40%. Six subjects out of ten are willing to destroy when more pressure is provided at specific intervals in time, with no need for an explicit reason or for the potential for reciprocal aggression.
Keywords: obedience, social image, conformism, authority, social pressure, experimenter demand, antisocial behavior
JEL Classification: C72, C91, D03, M12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation