Having a high authority status of the person making a request increases the tendency of people to comply with that demand. Benefiting from this principle of authority and power of authority in your user experience applications will facilitate the decision-making process of the users.

How Does?

Imagine waiting for your friend in front of a restaurant. Someone in a security uniform approached you and said, “See the man over there? The parking time has already expired, but he has no coins. Go give him some change. " said. Would you do that?

Statistically speaking, you probably do; In a study conducted by Leonard Bickman in 1974, it was seen that 92% of the participants fulfilled this request. However, it was observed that the same rate dropped dramatically to 42% when the claimant wore civilian clothes. (Same person, different clothing = big difference in the rate of influence) This is exactly the definition of the authority / authority principle in business life.

Author Robert Cialdini defines six different principles of action in his book "The Psychology of Persuasion" as follows:

1- Responding

2- Commitment and Consistency

3- Social proof

4- Love / Liking

5- Authority / authority

6- Famine

So, what is this jurisdiction principle? The principle of authority refers to a person's tendency to conform to people in positions of authority, such as government leaders, law enforcement representatives, doctors, lawyers, professors, and other experts in different fields.

This principle is basically a result of the tendency to make assumptions based on human judgment. Because the general belief - that is, the indirect assumption made - is that people in positions of authority can use more wisdom and power, and therefore obeying them will give a positive result. People tend to make decisions quickly rather than making correct or high-effort decisions by nature.

Understanding the origin of the principle of authority is not too difficult. Most of our knowledge of the world from childhood comes from authority figures such as our parents and teachers. For example, if a child wants to touch a burning stove, their parents warn them not to touch the stove. The child trusts the adult's reasoning skills and thus does not burn his hand. Or, when a teacher says 1 + 2 = 3, the child trusts the teacher unconditionally, that is, the relevant authority. Even though we are adults today, we meet or read about people in authority positions who have achieved great results with their competence. And although as adults we are much more skeptical about everything, one side of us always believes that the judgments of certain authority figures, such as scientists, doctors, lawyers, or law enforcement people, may be more reliable than our own. Even if the aforementioned situation is outside of their field of expertise, the situation does not change.

Milgram Experiment

An article on authority / authority and obedience would not be complete without referring to one of the sample social-psychology experiments on the subject. The Milgram experiment is the general name of a series of experiments aimed at measuring the extent to which people are willing to obey the wishes of an authoritative person or institution, despite contradicting their own conscientious values.

In Stanley Milgram's famous experiment, participants are asked to apply a series of memory tests to volunteers, unknown to the participants, but whom the researchers met before the experiment. The participant is told to give him a series of electric shocks each time the person he commissioned cannot answer the memory test correctly. As the test progresses, the voltage level of the supplied electricity is also increased. (Experiment volunteers were not given a real electric shock, but the participant was made to believe the reality of this situation.) As the tension increases, the subject begins to beg the participant to end the shocks, even the situation goes to the experiment subject pretending to lose consciousness. In this case, even if the participants want to stop the experiment, the researcher in the room requests them to continue the experiment. At this point, the actual participants of the study are faced with the heinous contradiction of obeying or disobeying a scientist - that is, his authority - and ending electric shocks. and unfortunately 65% ​​of the participants progressed to the highest shock level (although the highest levels are labeled with the letters "Danger: Severe Shock" or "XXX" the situation does not change).

The Milgram experiment showed that people tend to rely on the power of authority in making decisions, even if those decisions are immoral. Although this experiment has become the focal point of attacks due to its deceptive nature in the following years, it has enabled us to deeply understand human behavior and to better understand the factors that force us to direct our thoughts or decisions.

Authority and User Experience Relationship

Although obedience to authority sometimes leads to false judgments or unethical behavior, the result is not always so bad: after all, relying on expert opinion is in many cases an effective decision-making mechanism, saving us the trouble of investigating the issue in person.

For example, a user like financial services, legal services or medicine. In order to compare products in areas where extensive training or professional development is needed, they may have to accomplish a complex, knowledge-intensive job: In times of such uncertainty, users look at what the authorities in this field are doing to make their decisions.

User experience professionals can leverage the authority / jurisdiction principle to increase the reliability of their designs. Here are a few things that can help you increase user confidence:

Photographs of people in positions of authority (or of people dressed as if they hold positions of authority) - Doctors or scientists in white lab coats or lawyers in suits
Symbols of authority - for example, the caduceus of Hermes or his disciples (Caduceus: the symbol of medical science modeled from the staff of Hermes, known in mythology as the news god), or the scales of justice for law-oriented sites, etc.
Reputable organizations logos
Quotes or endorsements from experts, celebrities, and other authorities

Examples of Successful Authorities Regarding User Experience

1-Passion Planner, an enterprise planner / organizer, succeeded in transferring the authority principle to the user experience by quoting Business Insider, which is an authority on professional development. They also use the principle of social proof, including their ratings on Amazon.

2- Elena’s Restaurant is a popular Filipino restaurant and catering business. At the top of the site is the host of a famous cooking show and the approval of a famous gourmet, and at the bottom of the site is the latest awards from local food critics.

3- NeighborhoodScout.com, a site that uses crime data and neighborhood statistics to provide information on real estate investments, the US federal agency, etc. It takes advantage of the principle of authority by emphasizing service subscriptions with real authorities.

4-Fabric8Labs, which makes three-dimensional printing works, has added the famous entrepreneur Mark Cuban to its investor list and sought to benefit from the power of the authority with the method of "getting approval from famous figures".

Ethics of Authority

Using the principle of authority to your advantage does not mean that you are free to deceive your customers with fake authority practices. After all, there are ethical standards we must follow when it comes to user experience. We must first consider whether the way we enjoy the principle of authority is beneficial to the user and whether it is implemented with integrity. Do you think it is a useful and honest statement to say that the famous Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli endorsed the math tutoring software? Or how useful would it be to say that employees of a police department strongly recommend a catering company? Even if these acknowledgments are correct, these people are the authorities in unrelated areas, and although their views may confuse the audience, they cannot provide a true expert opinion on the quality of the products in question.

In this sense, it is also important that you do not violate customer confidentiality agreements by sending customer logos. Sometimes the fate of your private information and consulting services may depend on maintaining confidentiality agreements. You should consider the fact that your client endorsements and “past customers” section include companies that have agreed to join your organization publicly. If not, you should try to get permission before you can specify the company name on your homepage (or any page).

You can use the principle of authority to alleviate the trouble of making decisions. Persuasion and influence means not only directing customers to decisions that are in the interests of the business, but also about the covert intervention you make in the decisions users want to make ahead of time, the seeds of doubt you plant, and the amount of effort you have to make. By reducing the amount of effort in the decision-making process (and reaffirming your decision), you can increase the confidence of your users / customers and make them feel powerful. Remember, a strong customer is a happy customer, and a happy customer is a money-making customer.

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