Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Meredyth Krych-Appelbauin

Committee Member

Jennifer Pardo

Committee Member

Kenneth Sumner


What is the place of authority and what effects does it have on the behavior of individuals? This has historically been a question addressed in social psychology literature (see Milgram, 1963; Zimbardo, 1974; 2007). Traditionally researchers in this paradigm focus on the situational effects of assigned authority on underling positions in asymmetric power structure settings (e.g. the “teacher” and “learner” in Milgram, 1963). The current study sought to place focus on the individual in the authority role while engaged in a cooperative pay-off game. Thirty-eight students (N = 38) were recruited to participate in two trials of the Prisoner’s Dilemma Game (PDG) consisting of 20 rounds each for a total of 40 rounds. In between the two trials, participants completed three models in a Lego construction communication task. There were two conditions for the Lego task - a cooperative and non-cooperative condition. In the cooperative condition, participants were instructed to cooperate with their partner to complete the task; in the non-cooperative condition, participants were told to dictate instructions to the builder . Participants competed in the PDG and worked on the Lego task with a confederate posing as a naive participant. It was hypothesized that those in the cooperative condition would show a decrease in defecting in the PDG from Trial 1 to Trial 2, whereas the noncooperative condition would show an increase in defecting. The results did not support this hypothesis, but there was a significant increase in overall defecting from Trial 1 to Trial 2 of the PDG. Possible reasons for this increase are discussed.

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