Posted by Beetle B. on Fri 19 May 2017


Study: A person is introduced to various groups as either a student, lecturer, professor, etc. After he leaves the room, people are asked to guess his height. The average guess increased with rank.

Study involving 22 nurse stations. A phone call would come in and a voice claiming to be a doctor would ask the nurse to give a patient some medicine. Obvious issues:

  1. It was against the hospital’s policy to take prescription orders on the phone.
  2. The medicine had not been approved by the hospital.
  3. The dosage was double the max recommended
  4. The nurse did not know the person on the phone.

Yet 95% of nurses complied.


People easily comply with others who are in a uniform (e.g. doctor, police, etc).

They also are influenced by those in business suits. A study involved a person who would jay walk on a green light. Half the times it was a person in ordinary clothes. The other half it was someone in a business suit. Pedestrians were 3.5 times more likely to follow suit if it was someone in a business suit.


In the US, people are much less likely to honk at a luxury car than a plain car.

How To Say No

Always question if the person is truly an authority figure (and not pretending to be one).

Also question if they are an expert. Just because the person is a doctor doesn’t mean he is an expert on some non-medical topic.

Beware: Conmen will often seem to argue against their own interests to make you think they are genuine. An example would be a waiter who may discourage a more expensive item. Or someone who will tell you you are right not to trust them.