Stanislav Belyaev

Empowering Teams, Advancing Engineering

Power of Authority

The power of any person on a team is based on multiple criteria. All the criteria have different importance depending on the culture, but the criteria are still the same. Dependent on the sum of values people in society choose their own behavior to the person they meet.

Just for instance, if you are from an Asian country, you respect those who are elder than you. If you are from Brazil, people who have a higher position in the company (your manager or director ) have authority over you.

As I said, based on a sum of these criteria people classify the power over the society. These criteria are:

  • Age. The elder you are, the more respectful you are
  • A bank account balance. The more money (or a more expensive car) you have, the more power you have
  • Position in a hierarchy. The higher your position in the company, the more power you have
  • Your appearance. The better-looking people have more power
  • Expertise. If someone is more experience (or knowledge, or graduated from a respectful University) than me, he has more power over me
  • Authority signs. If you are dressed as a policeman or a doctor, you have more power over me

Not a complete list, but I think it’s enough to share the idea. The last criterion in the list was confirmed by the Standford Prison Experiment, 1971. For decades the results of the experiment were used to confirm the idea that if someone has the authority signs, he can make people obey. Multiple books were written based on this idea and explained enormous people’s behavior.

Until 2018. The initial experiment is the only one that proved the hypothesis. No other experiment hasn’t reproduced the results, which generated doubts about the initial interpretation results. In detail, it’s explained here. It was a lie, it’s assumed.

For me personally, revealing the case results broke a part of the knowledge I got before. I have to re-evaluate my knowledge now.

Posted on LinkedIn