Authority in small groups: A laboratory test of a Machiavellian observation

Robert Spillane*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Several researchers have commented on a trend towards analysing separately the positional and personal components of authority in group behaviour. Analyses of authority have left unresolved the question of personal authority effecting changes in the positional authority of group leaders. The aim of this study was to simulate positional and personal authority in a small‐group environment and investigate the influence of personal authority on positional authority as perceived by group members. The result was an increased support rate for the positional authority when a personal authority was present in the group. This finding was discussed in terms of Machiavelli's observations of power relations, Allport's structurogenic theory and power theories in the social psychological literature. 1983 The British Psychological Society

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-59
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1983


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