6 of 7

Authority: Directed Deference

Whenever we are faced with so potent a motivator of human action, it is natural to expect that good reasons exist for the motivation.

We are trained from birth to believe that obedience to proper authority is right and disobedience is wrong. This mindset is reinforced from childhood to adulthood—when we obey our parents or employers we get a reward, but when we disobey them we get punished. Obedience is often a subconscious reaction; we rarely have to think about it. However, sometimes, we do not obey the proper authority but rather those who are trying to trick us into believing that they are the proper authority.

When people carry a professional title such as “Doctor” or “Judge”, we are more likely to view them as proper authorities. Clothes such as military fatigues and priest robes can also carry the connotation of proper authority. Lastly, trappings such as expensive jewelry and luxury cars can serve the same purpose. Con artists often use a combination of these three things to trick others into believing in their authority.

Principles to follow