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A relational model of authority in groups

TitleA relational model of authority in groups
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsTyler, T, Lind, A
JournalAdvances in Experimental Social Psychology

This chapter focuses on one particular aspect of authoritativeness: voluntary compliance with the decisions of authorities. Social psychologists have long distinguished between obedience that is the result of coercion, and obedience that is the result of internal attitudes. Opinions describe “reward power” and “coercive power”, in which obedience is contingent on positive and negative outcomes, and distinguish both of these types of power from legitimate power, in which obedience flows from judgments about the legitimacy of the authority. Legitimate power depends on people taking the obligation on themselves to obey and voluntarily follow the decisions made by authorities. The chapter also focuses on legitimacy because it is important to recognize, that legitimacy is not the only attitudinal factor influencing effectiveness. It is also influenced by other cognitions about the authority, most notably judgments of his or her expertise with respect to the problem at hand. The willingness of group members to accept a leader's directives is only helpful when the leader knows what directives to issue.