This article is part of our series on the 4 Essential Types of Content Every Marketing Strategy Needs. Make sure to get your special free bonus at the end of the article.
In a famous 1963 experiment at Yale University, psychologist Stanley Milgram learned that people’s duty to authority runs pretty dang deep.
Here’s how he conducted the study.
Two participants met and were placed in separate rooms. One participant was the “learner,” and one was the “teacher.” Unbeknownst to the “teacher,” the “learner” was an actor.
The teacher was instructed to ask the learner a question. If the learner got the question wrong, the teacher was directed to shock the student.
And here’s the disturbing part.
When a “researcher” wearing a grey lab coat told the teacher to keep shocking — even if the student was screaming, kicking, and begging for mercy from the adjacent room — the teacher would continue to shock 65 percent of the time. All the way up to 450 volts of electricity.
On the other hand, when there was no encouragement from the researcher, the teacher would quit delivering the shocks early on.
Keep in mind these were typical, healthy people — just like you and me — shocking the daylights out of strangers. Of course, no electrical shocks were actually given. But the teachers didn’t know that.
It seems our sense of duty to authority does run pretty dang deep.
Fortunately, we are content marketers around here, so we deliver products and services, not electrical shocks. But does authority have anything to do with people trusting you when money is involved?
That’s exactly what we’ll explore in this post.