People Seem More Likely to Follow Rules They Can't
MONDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- People who believe a rule or
restriction is absolute are more likely to accept it than those who
think the rule has some wiggle room, according to a new study.
The findings may help explain a number of human behaviors and
actions, including the Arab Spring uprisings, according to the
authors of the study to be published in an upcoming issue of the
In the study, participants read articles that said lower speed
limits in cities would make people safer. Some of them also read
that government leaders had decided to reduce speed limits. Of
those participants, some read that this legislation was certain to
be enacted while others read that it would probably happen, but
that there was a chance it would be voted down.
Compared to people in the control group who only read that lower
speed limits would improve safety, support for the change was
stronger among those who believed the speed limit was definitely
being lowered but weaker among those who thought there was a chance
it wouldn't happen.
The finding appears to confirm what the researchers suspected
about absoluteness -- people will find a way to live with a
restriction if they believe it is definite, said study author
Kristin Laurin of the University of Waterloo in Ontario,
"If it's a restriction that I can't really do anything about, then there's really no point in hitting my head against the wall and trying to fight against it," Laurin said in a journal news release. "I'm better off if I just give up. But if there's a chance I can beat it, then it makes sense for my brain to make me want the restricted thing even more, to motivate me to fight."
She cited this year's uprisings in a number of Arab countries as
an example. For decades, those nations had dictatorships with
seemingly absolute power and people found ways to live under those
repressive systems. But when the first Arab Spring revolt in
Tunisia forced the president to flee, people in nearby nations
realized their governments weren't all-powerful and rebelled.
The Kellogg School of Management has information on
rationalization in decision making.
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