Authority

We have a strong tendency to comply with those in charge

Parent, boss or judge: we trust and accept the decisions of those with relative expertise. However, conformity differs across both culture and age.

Bickman, L. (1974). The social power of a uniform. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 4, 47-61.

The study

Setup

153 New York pedestrians were approached by someone dressed as either a civilian, a milkman or a police officer and were asked to help out a stranger by covering the cost of his / her parked car ticket.

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Results

The more authoritarian the uniform, the higher the chance they’d give the money. The civilian succeeded only 33% of the time, whereas the police officer managed 89%.

np_read_2490885_000000

In detail

Key Takeaways

Determine an authority figure with relative expertise in relation to the group and behavior you’re looking to influence. Ensure that the individual is credible and trustworthy.

Communicate their authority clearly. For instance, using authority indicators like “Doctor,” “Judge,” “Award-winning” etc. Complementing this with a suitably-dressed photo of said individual will make any request much more effective. Add a quotation too.

Compliance varies depending on demographics. Older people are more compliant than younger people, for instance. For the young, use culturally-relevant aspirational models to mask authority whilst also nudging desired behavior. 

Authority

We have a strong tendency to comply with those in charge

Parent, boss or judge: we trust and accept the decisions of those with relative expertise. However, conformity differs across both culture and age.

Bickman, L. (1974). The social power of a uniform. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 4, 47-61.

The study

Setup

153 New York pedestrians were approached by someone dressed as either a civilian, a milkman or a police officer and were asked to help out a stranger by covering the cost of his / her parked car ticket.

Results

The more authoritarian the uniform, the higher the chance they’d give the money. The civilian succeeded only 33% of the time, whereas the police officer managed 89%.

Key Takeaways

Determine an authority figure with relative expertise in relation to the group and behavior you’re looking to influence. Ensure that the individual is credible and trustworthy.

Communicate their authority clearly. For instance, using authority indicators like “Doctor,” “Judge,” “Award-winning” etc. Complementing this with a suitably-dressed photo of said individual will make any request much more effective. Add a quotation too.

Compliance varies depending on demographics. Older people are more compliant than younger people, for instance. For the young, use culturally-relevant aspirational models to mask authority whilst also nudging desired behavior. 

Authority

We have a strong tendency to comply with those in charge

Parent, boss or judge: we trust and accept the decisions of those with relative expertise. However, conformity differs across both culture and age.

The study

Setup

153 New York pedestrians were approached by someone dressed as either a civilian, a milkman or a police officer and were asked to help out a stranger by covering the cost of his / her parked car ticket.

Results

The more authoritarian the uniform, the higher the chance they’d give the money. The civilian succeeded only 33% of the time, whereas the police officer managed 89%.

np_read_2490885_000000

In detail

Pairings

Highlight new-found status to the group

Acknowledging a person’s position amongst a group can inject new-found confidence in the individual and act as a behavioural reference point for others.

Where can you use status to highlight successful acts that others should now surely follow? Be sure to provide positive feedback when other members of the group follow suit.

Experience

Embrace reassuring Authority in difficult times

in times of uncertainty and major personal or social change, those in control or whom we look up to can provide powerful guidance.

Who in your domain is seen as a respected authority figure? How can you use such respected role models to help provide reassuring clarity and steer people though?

Connected to

Running workshops?

Authority

is included in Box One of our physical workshop tool.
is included in Box Two of our physical workshop tool.
Box One