Get access

Legitimacy of Control


  • We thank Gary Charness, Peter Dürsch, Martin Dufwenberg, Armin Falk, Price Fishbeck, Petra Hagemann, Bernd Irlenbusch, Michael Kosfeld, Jörg Oechssler, Matteo Ploner, Joop Sonnemans, and seminar participants at the IZA/SOLE Transatlantic meeting 2007, the ESA meeting 2007 in Rome for their helpful comments. Financial support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 504) and the Asociación Méxicana de Cultura is gratefully acknowledged.


Control sometimes triggers negative responses. Although there is empirical evidence for such negative reactions and theories that can explain them, it remains to be examined when they occur. We conjecture that these negative responses disappear if control is legitimate, that is, if it averts antisocial behavior. Specifically, we predict that fewer individuals respond negatively to control if control prevents selfishness or theft. We confirm these predictions in an experiment.