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Coercion

 

Explanations > Theories > Coercion

Description | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

This is the acting to change a person’s behavior, even when they do not wish to do so. Coercive methods work mostly be threat or bribery. Both use extrinsic motivation with the message ‘do this and you will get that.’

Threats can be for new action that is painful, such as physical or psychological attack. Threats can often take the form of denial, such as removal of benefits or prevention from access to a desired resource.

Social position is very important to us, so rejection from a group or public embarrassment can be very serious threats. We can coerce by framing desired behaviors as necessary because of social rules such as returning favors or adherence to group norms (with implied social rejection as the threatened punishment).

Example

Parents regularly coerce their children, even physically. Where the line of legitimacy is depends on your morals and is a topic of heated debate.

At the highest level, war is ultimate coercion between countries.

So what?

Using it

Find what people want or fear, gain control over it, then offer access as a bribe or denial as a threatened punishment.

Defending

There are four types of defense against coercion.

  • Stonewall: refuse outright, just saying no.
  • Identity separation: Refuse on the grounds that it is ‘not the kind of thing I do’.
  • Justification: Show cause and negative effect, saying why you will not comply.
  • Negotiation: Make counter-offers to allow the other person to achieve their goals.

See also

Power

References

Marwell and Schmitt (1967), McLaughlin, Cody and Robey (1980)

 

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