45 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2014

See all articles by Alexandros Karakostas

Alexandros Karakostas

University of Queensland

Daniel John Zizzo

University of Queensland - School of Economics

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

Karakostas, Alexandros and Zizzo, Daniel John, Obedience (January 31, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2388555 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2388555

Alexandros Karakostas

University of Queensland ( email )

Brisbane, QLD 4072

Daniel John Zizzo (Contact Author)

University of Queensland - School of Economics ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072

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